Subject: Re: Open Source and Contributor Agreements
From: Alex Bligh <alex@alex.org.uk>
Date: Sat, 26 Nov 2005 12:32:06 +0000

David,

> - Groups who maintain a branch of an open project but restrict "commit"
> privileges to those who grant extra rights that group -- even with the
> best intentions -- are fundamentally subverting the openness of the
> project.

That's not the way I read it. The point is the openness of the project is
maintained by the ability of contributors to fork (i.e. run the project
somewhere else) if they don't like the way the maintainer is doing their
stuff (including requiring contributor agreements that are punitive and/or
exceed the benefit of working with the maintainer). It's precisely because
of this "freedom to fork away from the maintainer" (by which is meant avoid
a compulsory license back) that (some) people didn't like the OVPL. Given
CA's are voluntary, I have heard few (rational) people say they are
inherently evil (i.e. they should not be offered) - many say they they
won't sign them (i.e. they should not be accepted) - which is of course
their right - but that's a different thing entirely.

> - Because an opt-out contributor agreement integrated into the license is
> too easy, it's too likely to cause people to accidentally give rights to
> the maintainer, and thus too anti-open to be approved by the OSI.
>
> Is this accurate?

No, for the above reason. And because what people objected to about the
OVPL was asymmetry. Opt-out asymmetry is still asymmetry (I agree with that
one whole heartedly). And opt-out can itself be a pernicious (see, for
instance, spam discussions ad-nauseam).

Alex