[License-discuss] Looking for a license agreement.

Tom Callaway tcallawa at redhat.com
Thu Oct 6 18:42:58 UTC 2011

On 10/06/2011 12:50 PM, Rudy Lippan wrote:
> There will also  be a community aspect where individuals will
> develop and contribute components, just like every other open source
> project....  However, some of the contributed components may not be
> eligible for copyright protections.  A component might be a simple
> configuration file, a pure data set, or even a full description of a
> server farm with data processing and management software.
> So what I would like to do is tie the license of the software to the user
> of the software respecting the licenses of the community-distributed components
> they use, whether or not the individual component is eligible for copyright
> protection.

Just my two cents here, but I believe that it will be simpler (and
safer) if you assume that all contributions to your project are
copyrightable, and thus, needing to be under a compatible license.

(Yes, I'm sure someone will feel the urge to be pedantic and point out
that there are multiple assumptions in the above sentence, but please do

If the contributions are not copyrightable, then the license applied to
those contributions is possibly irrelevant, and the widest possible
range of "rights" for it apply. However, if a contribution is assumed to
be non-copyrightable and no license is applied, and that turns out to be
false (or false for some jurisdictions), not having the license will be
extremely problematic.

I also think that you should handle contribution licensing requirements
separately from the copyright license of your work. I have seen too many
poorly worded software copyright licenses where the intent was noble,
but the implementation ended up in something that was non-Free or
non-Open Source.

In Fedora, we require contributors to agree to the Fedora Project
Contributor Agreement (https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Legal:FPCA), to
ensure that contributions (of both code and content) accepted to Fedora
are guaranteed to come with acceptable licensing terms, either via
explicit licensing statement from the copyright holder or explicit
agreement to the default license terms as stated in the FPCA. A similar
model may work for your project, and the FPCA is available under
CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported (with section 4d waived), although if you do
decide to generate a derived work, I strongly encourage you to have a
lawyer sign off on it first, because Legalese != English.

Hope that helps,


P.S. I Am Not A Lawyer, this is not to be considered "legal advice".

Fedora Project

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