Samba may consider accepting corporate-donated code ... fixes only?

Summary:Should Samba switch gears and accept corporate contributions for the first time?We're not talking about funding.

Should Samba switch gears and accept corporate contributions for the first time?

We're not talking about funding. We're talking about code.

That's the question Samba chief Jeremy Allison is asking his large open source community, which to date has only accepted code with personal copyrights.

In an open letter sent to the Samba mailing list, Allison said the open source project might consider allowing some "corporate owned copyright" code in Samba now that the GPL3 exists.

He made it clear, though, that there would be clear limits on corporate involvement.

"I'm proposing that we modify our policy slightly to allow corporate owned copyright within Samba. Note I'm not proposing open season on corporate (C), and we'd still prefer to get individual copyright, or assignment to the Software Freedom Conservancy (as we have done in the past)," Allison wrote.

"I'd still suggest that we keep personal or SFC copyright for code that goes into libraries, or code that might be moved into a library. But for things like build fixes for specific platforms, I don't think it's necessary any more to insist on personal copyright, which can delay or prevent engineers from giving us good fixes."

Here's the full letter:

Hi all,

Some history. Samba has historically only accepted code with personal, not corporate copyright attached.

There were a couple of good reasons for this in the past, one of which was that we preferred GPL enforcement decisions to be made by individuals, not by corporations.

Under GPLv2, a license violator loses all rights under the license and these have to be reinstated by the copyright holders, which made controlling who those copyright holders were very important. People are usually much more reasonable than corporations :-).

With the move to GPLv3, this is much less important than it once was. The GPLv3, unlike GPLv2, allows an automatic reinstatement of rights under the license if a violator cures the license violation problem within 30 days.

Given this, I'm proposing that we modify our policy slightly to allow corporate owned copyright within Samba. Note I'm not proposing open season on corporate (C), and we'd still prefer to get individual copyright, or assignment to the Software Freedom Conservancy (as we have done in the past).

The reason to prefer individual, or SFC owned copyright is for ease of relicensing components within Samba. Over time, we have moved certain libraries within Samba from GPL to LGPL, for example the tdb and talloc libraries. Re-licensing like this is easier if we don't have to get permission from a corporate legal department, but can just directly ask the engineers themselves, so I'd still suggest that we keep personal or SFC copyright for code that goes into libraries, or code that might be moved into a library.

But for things like build fixes for specific platforms, I don't think it's necessary any more to insist on personal copyright, which can delay or prevent engineers from giving us good fixes.

I already raised this with tridge, who told me that he had been meaning to raise the very same issue with me (just one more proof that great minds think alike :-), so I promised to write this email to propose it to the lists in general.

Please comment and let us know what you think about this possibility. Samba Team members get to vote, but we'd be really interested in hearing from all Samba users to understand if this is something the community thinks is a good idea or not.

The consideration comes as Samba continues work on the much anticipated version 4, which offers support for Microsoft Active directory.

Topics: Open Source

About

Paula Rooney has covered the software and technology industry for more than 20 years, starting with semiconductor design and mini-computer systems at EDN News and later focused on PC software companies including Microsoft, Lotus, Oracle, Red Hat, Novell and other open source and commercial software companies for CRN and PCWeek. She receiv... Full Bio

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