RFC: Properly stated origin of code contributions

Carter Schonwald carter.schonwald at gmail.com
Thu Oct 30 16:35:38 UTC 2014

tl;dr I think we're fine :)

long version; asking people the first time they contribute to confirm that
their work is their own, and they can and do grant bsd license is about all
thats needed.

i'm not sure how language standards relate to this topic, but i'll ask you
about that out of band I guess ;)

On Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 11:45 AM, Brandon Allbery <allbery.b at gmail.com>

> On Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 11:25 AM, Carter Schonwald <
> carter.schonwald at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I'm happy to ask the IP lawyers in my family for some opinions on this
>> but I think what we are doing now is fine.
> As Joachim already noted, it's a bit late to switch course for GHC; you'd
> have to track down every past contributor. (I've been involved with
> projects that needed to do that; if at all possible, avoid it.)
> The reality, as I understand it (note that I Am Not A Lawyer(tm) but have
> experience with projects that have had to face the question), is that
> there's complex interactions between copyright law and contract law (not to
> mention questions of how contract law affects contributions to an open
> project). And both have a certain "valid until proven otherwise" aspect,
> which often makes it wisest to not change what's already working well
> enough --- especially since even asking a lawyer "on the clock" can
> potentially have legal implications on the whole project (but only if
> someone actually challenges in court and brings it up). As a result, the
> FUD's kinda built into the legal structure. :/
> (My earlier response is not incompatible with this; the question I was
> answering was why a project might go with a CLA. In reality, whether the
> answer is *relevant* to a project is certainly open to question. One
> difference between the situation with GHC and the situation with Scala or
> Perl 6 is that the latter are also defining a language specification, which
> may have implications if there is a plan to submit it to an official
> standards body at some point. For ghc, that rests on the language
> committee, not the GHC developers.)
> If it really bothers you, probably best to ask someone like the EFF.
> Almost certainly do *not* formally ask a lawyer (informal is fine) --- they
> are going to concentrate on the worst case, mainly because even asking for
> a formal evaluation suggests that there is a need to worry about the worst
> case. Otherwise, leave well enough alone.
> --
> brandon s allbery kf8nh                               sine nomine
> associates
> allbery.b at gmail.com
> ballbery at sinenomine.net
> unix, openafs, kerberos, infrastructure, xmonad
> http://sinenomine.net
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