Copyright arrangements for a web project

Josh Berkus josh at
Thu Dec 12 17:51:28 UTC 2013


> * It would clearly be sensible to appoint a licence steward in the
>   GPLv3 sense.  If the current project leadership lack free software
>   credibility, could SPI serve as licence steward ?

On a realistic basis, this would only be practical if you have an active
and engaged liaison who does all of the actual approval etc. work.

> * Should the project give the licence steward the power to change the
>   public licence unilaterally in the future in ways other than just
>   upgrading to newer versions ?  I think the answer is probably "yes"
>   because the licensing landscape for web applications isn't settled
>   yet.  Is this a good idea and how should it be done ?

Even when the steward is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, such a provision would be
strongly discouraging to contributors.

>   Ideally it would be good to avoid requiring copyright assignment to
>   the licence steward.  Can this be achieved by some text in the
>   standard licence rubric eg

SPI has never handled or supported copyright assignment before.  We'd
first need to have a policy meeting to see if we even support the idea
of copyright assignment, and then see if we have the personnel resources
to actually handle assignment for a specific project.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of copyright assignment, so as a warning
I'd be arguing against SPI supporting this.

Also, you can't modify the text of the GPL and still call it the GPL.
Copyright assignment agreements conventionally exist outside of the
license in any case.

> * Personally I'm an AGPLv3 proponent.  The system ought to be suitable
>   for AGPLv3 provided that its submodules are AGPLv3-compatible (and
>   if they aren't, then we can probably write a licence exception).
>   (The main program I'm thinking of here is a Ruby on Rails
>   application.)  What are people's feelings about AGPLv3 ?

SPI, of course, will accept AGPL-licensed projects since they qualify as
Free Software.

I'm personally not a fan of the AGPL because of how it's used by
technology corporations as a shareware license.  I know that's not the
intention of the license, but it is the majority use case.

--Josh Berkus

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