While I was thinking about this post the other day, I shot off a few questions to Louis Suarez-Potts, OpenOffice.org's Community Manager, about the issue. He responded after the piece ran, and had a few comments.
In my earlier piece, I suggested that the provision requiring contributors to sign a Joint Copyright Assignment (JCA) to Sun might not be the best way to encourage participation -- particularly from companies like IBM that see Sun as a competitor. Suarez-Potts disagrees, and says that it hasn't kept anyone from contributing to the project:
It's not the JCA that causes any problems. As I asked a community member who was arguing against the JCA, Did he have any evidence of any developer besides himself not contributing to the source because of the JCA? He has yet to say yes.
In fact, there are no real examples.
The issue is not the JCA, even here. It is, more accurately phrased, either, Do you trust Sun? At this point, the issue is pretty dead. Most people have come to realize that Sun, for all its flaws, has operated pretty decently in the OSS world.
Suarez-Potts noted that IBM is not just using OpenOffice.org as a product, but also "forking" the technology into its IBM Workplace software. IBM's Ken Bisconti discusses IBM's use of OpenOffice.org in Workplace in an interview with eWeek.
While there's no love lost between IBM and Sun, Suarez-Potts says that he's not being snarky when he says that he'd like IBM to work with OpenOffice.org:
But, I'm serious when I say that I'd love for IBM to work with us; and we'll do what we can do encourage that. It's not just hating IBM at all. From where I sit, they do fine work, I just wish it were also publicly on OOo.
...I know they have done good work on OOo--I saw at the Almaden Research Center two years ago--and invite them to share their code with OOo. They can do so in numerous ways. There is no reason for any one-upmanship here: no one is holier than thou. What counts is advancing the code, building community, not snipping at heels or whining over felt injustices.
If IBM or any other group wishes to work with us, they are more than welcome to.