Samba makes change to enlist corporate developer support

The Samba project has announced the creation of a certificate that will enlist participation by corporate developers. The process is similar to the way developers engage in the Linux project, Samba leader Jeremy Allison said
Written by Paula Rooney, Contributor

The Samba project is making changes to encourage company participation while keeping corporate legal departments at bay.

The project has announced the creation of the Samba Developer's Certificate of Origin 1.0, which enables employees to retain personal copyrights on code developed and contributed to Samba.

"What this does is allows employees who contribute to Samba on a workday to contribute this code to Samba whilst still allowing the corporation to keep copyright on the code, " said Allison, in a statement posted on ZDNet today. "It should make it a lot easier for corporate legal departments to sign-off on contributing their changes back to the main Samba code base, as they don't need to assign copyright to the engineer anymore."

[Editor's note: Above statement was added after initial publication of story to clarify this writer's error.]

The certificate -- essentially a sign off from the corporation to the developer -- is effective immediately, Samba project leader Jeremy Allison announced in a statement that was released on Tuesday.

The process is similar to the one used in the Linux project, he claimed.

The Samba certificate has already been sanctioned by the powers that be in the community: it was developed in cooperation with the Software Freedom Law Center, Allison announced.

Samba is used extensively in the enterprise. The 20-year-old software allows Linux servers and desktops to exploit the SMB/CIFS protocol integrate seamlessly with Windows' core file, print and directory services.

Here's the core excerpts from the announcement distributed on that mailing list:

"Samba is a project with distributed copyright ownership, which means

we prefer the copyright on parts of Samba to be held by individuals

rather than corporations if possible. There are historical legal

reasons for this, but one of the best ways to explain it is that it's

much easier to work with individuals who have ownership than corporate

legal departments if we ever need to make reasonable compromises with

people using and working with Samba.

We track the ownership of every part of Samba via git, our source code

control system, so we know the provenance of every piece of code that

is committed to Samba.

So if possible, if you're doing Samba changes on behalf of a company

who normally owns all the work you do please get them to assign

personal copyright ownership of your changes to you as an individual,

that makes things very easy for us to work with and avoids bringing

corporate legal departments into the picture.

If you can't do this we can still accept patches from you owned by

your employer under a standard employment contract with corporate

copyright ownership. It just requires a simple set-up process first.

We use a process very similar to the way things are done in the Linux

kernel community, so it should be very easy to get a sign off from

your corporate legal department. The only changes we've made are to

accommodate the licenses we use, which are GPLv3 and LGPLv3 (or later)

whereas the Linux kernel uses GPLv2.

The process is called signing.

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