A Qualitative Study on the Adoption of Copyright Assignment Agreements (CAA) and Copyright License Agreements (CLA) within Selected FOSS Projects

Author:Sylvia F. Jakob
Pages:105-115
SUMMARY

Open source software projects are multi-collaborative works incorporating the contributions of numerous developers who, in spite of publishing their code under a public license such as GPL, Apache or BSD, retain the copyright in their contributions. Having multiple copyright-owners can make the steering of a project difficult, if not impossible, as there is no ultimate authority able to take... (see full summary)

 
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A Qualitative Study on the Adoption of CAA and CLA
2014
105
2
Abstract: Open source software projects are
multi-collaborative works incorporating the contri-
butions of numerous developers who, in spite of pub-
lishing their code under a public license such as GPL,
Apache or BSD, retain the copyright in their contri-
butions. Having multiple copyright-owners can make
the steering of a project difficult, if not impossible, as
there is no ultimate authority able to take decisions
relating to the maintenance and use of the project.
This predicament can be remedied by centring the
dispersed copyrights in a single authority via con-
tributor agreements. Whether to introduce contribu-
tor agreements, and if so in which form, is a pressing
question for many emerging, but also for established
projects. The current paper provides an insight into
the ethos of different projects and their reason for
adopting or rejecting particular contributor agree-
ments. It further examines the exact set-up of the
contributor agreements used and concludes that
smart drafting can blur the difference between CAAs
and CLAs to a considerable extent, manoeuvring
them into a legal grey area. To avoid costly litigation
to test the legal enforceability of individual clauses,
this paper proposes the establishment of an inter-
national committee comprised of developers, product
managers and lawyers interested in finding a com-
mon terminology that may serve as a foundation for
every contributor agreement.
A Qualitative Study on the Adoption
of Copyright Assignment Agreements
(CAA) and Copyright License Agreements
(CLA) within Selected FOSS Projects
by Sylvia F. Jakob, LL.B.(Hons.), Dipl. L.P., LL.M., Solicitor (n.p), Research Assistant, Institute for Legal Informatics,
Hannover
© 2014 Sylvia F. Jakob
Everybody may disseminate this ar ticle by electroni c means and make it available for downlo ad under the terms and
conditions of the Digita l Peer Publishing Licence (DPPL). A copy of the license text may be obtaine d at http://nbn-resolving.
de/urn:nbn:de:0009-dppl-v3-en8 .
This article may also b e used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share A like 3.0 Unported License, available at h t t p : //
creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/.
Recommended citation: Sylv ia F. Jakob, A Qualitat ive Study on the Adoption of Copyright Assignment Agre ements (CAA) and
Copyright License Agreement s (CLA) within Selected FOSS Proje cts, 5 (2014) JIPITEC 105, para. 1.
Keywords: Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), Public Licenses, Outbound Licenses, Inbound Licenses, Con-
tributor Agreements, Contributor Assignment Agreements (CAA), Contributor License Agreements
(CLA)

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