[wp-hackers] On Submitting Code

hakre hanskrentel at yahoo.de
Tue Aug 31 12:42:36 UTC 2010

On Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 10:17:24PM +1000, Jeremy Visser wrote:

> Hi Hakre,

> What would that achieve? In your blog post you wrote:

>> WordPress does not have such a policy right now [...] This is a
>> serious issue.

>> That?s really a big problem, because after code has made it in, it's
>> very hard to find out for every contribution if the needed rights
>> were given or not. Just think a moment about that.

> You say that like it?s a bad thing. On the contrary, it is a good thing,
> and ensures that WordPress is and will always remain true to the spirit
> of free libre open source software.
> [...]

Hmm, no. Because code submitted falls under no policy. Your argumentation stops 
at the point where improper licensed code is added by someone. If you now 
confront yourself with that case and you need to verify that for all code that 
has been added so far, then you might understand why a code submission policy is 
very helpful. And then you might understand why I have currently a lot of work 
todo. I'm grateful for any help offerd.

> [...] Even without a code submission policy, it is 100% clear that all
> contributions to WordPress fall under the GPL.

That might be clear to yourself because you are who you are. For anybody else, 
they most certainly can not read your mind. So you speak for yourself, that's 
fine. But there are more contributions than yours.

> [...] The LICENSE.txt file is included with every copy of WordPress,
>which clearly talks about derivative works. A code contribution policy
> will not clarify that.

I have not said that a code contribution policy will clarify the license. The 
important point is, that when new code comes in, it is ensured that this new 
code is not breaking the license. A code contribution policy can actually help 
here. So it's the License and a clear code contribution policy. Not the one vs. 
the other.

> You talked about the need for a code submission policy, then said that
> it?s hard to track down individual code contributions, as if the two are
>somehow related, and you even seem to imply that the latter will be
> solved by the former.

Let me make that more clear:

Current and Past code contributions are hard to track down (normally the more 
old, the harder) because they need to be checked.

It would have helped if there had been already a contribution policy and it 
would help for the future if there is coming one.

> That will not be the case. A code submission policy is not going to
> magically track down contributions any more than the existing "Props
> Br?er Rabbit? bylines in SVN.

You're naming the problem that the project is facing. That Roger Rabbit one 
might just be a joke, but in general what you say with that is the problem there 
was no policy for those contributions.

> [...] One
> code submission policy that some big projects like MySQL or VirtualBox
> use is that contributors must sign a copyright assignment, which assigns
> the copyright of the contributions to the parent company. This enables
> the parent company to create proprietary and non-GPL versions of the
> contributed code.

A code contribution policy must not mean that copyright is assigned to the 
project. But it can, and for useful reasons. I suggest the following read:

Why the FSF gets copyright assignments from contributors

Assigning copyright must have nothing to do with creating proprietary products 
as in the examples you named.

I'm open for examples, and sure, not those that would deal with the option to a 
proprietary-co-license please.

> [...] Maybe you weren?t suggesting a copyright assignment be included in a
> code submission policy. But if you're not going to include that in the
> policy, there's not much else to put in there that's not already in
> LICENSE.txt.

I was not suggesting that to do. It has various reasons why not, and right now 
I'm more interested in feedback from other developers.

-- hakre

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