contribution agreements for open source projects

Timothy McIntyre tmcintyre at
Mon Sep 28 19:16:50 UTC 2009

Hi Jeff,

I went through a similar exercise when creating the Contributor and 
Committer Agreements for Terracotta, for our open source division.  
After considering the various options, we decided to take the most 
conservative approach (which is the same one followed by the GNU folks), 
which requires contributors and committers to assign ownership in all IP 
they contribute to the Terracotta project (including copyright) to 
Terracotta, Inc.  This was crucial to us, because we offer versions of 
our software under both the Terracotta Public License, and under a 
commercial license / subscription, and we needed to be preserve our 
ability to make the code available to our community and customers under 
different licenses (which gets to the copyright assignment issue).  To 
date, we've never encountered any push-back from any of our community 
developers.  Hope that helps.


Jeffrey O'Neill wrote:
> Quite a few open-source projects are now requiring that contributors
> sign agreements to give ownership or other rights in their
> contributions to the project.  One prominent example is Sun's
> Contributor Agreement
> (
> Can anyone recommend a website that compares the contribution
> agreements used by different projects?  I'd like to use one for my
> project, but I'd like to consider the options so I can make an
> informed choice.
> Regards,
> Jeff

Timothy McIntyre // Corporate Counsel
Terracotta // Open Source Clustering for Java

tel: 415-738-4014
fax: 415-738-4040

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