Contribution agreement still necessary after switch to MIT?

Discussion area about developing or extending OGRE, adding plugins for it or building applications on it. No newbie questions please, use the Help forum for that.
Post Reply
Tiffer
Kobold
Posts: 36
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:00 pm

Contribution agreement still necessary after switch to MIT?

Post by Tiffer » Thu Dec 06, 2012 1:33 pm

Hi guys.

I wanted to submit a patch and I read about the contribution agreement. The thing is most of the information about the contribution agreement seems to be rather old. I was wondering if a contribution agreement is still required now that Ogre is MIT licensed. Since by licensing a patch with MIT I'm giving you rights to exploit the patch commercially anyway, I don't see the need for the agreement, so I just wanted to make sure.
0 x

CABAListic
OGRE Retired Team Member
OGRE Retired Team Member
Posts: 2903
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 2:48 pm
Contact:

Re: Contribution agreement still necessary after switch to M

Post by CABAListic » Thu Dec 06, 2012 2:45 pm

I was thinking similarly, but after reading a little on the subject the agreement can still save us some legal trouble. Mostly it makes your agreement to the license explicit and legally verifyable. Which will hopefully never be a matter of concern, but if it ever is it's good to have. Other big open source projects (e.g. Apache) have them, too.
0 x

Tiffer
Kobold
Posts: 36
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:00 pm

Re: Contribution agreement still necessary after switch to M

Post by Tiffer » Thu Dec 06, 2012 4:17 pm

Ok, makes sense. I must say for the sake of feedback that it's a bit discouraging, because of this I've decided to postpone sending my patch, for example, I need to think about the implications and about giving my name away and all that. In principle I just wanted to just give my little patch away, under my nickname, without thinking much of it.

About the need for a contribution agreement at all, the implication of saying that the contribution agreement is necessary is that licenses like MIT are something that could possibly have problems standing in court. And if that's true there's a lot of companies in trouble, including Apple, Microsoft, etc, so I find that surprising.

In any case, I would suggest you reconsider your stance. My little fix is irrelevant, but a project that makes it easy to contribute to is a healthy project and that's in everybody's best interest. I wonder how many people have been about to send a patch until they read about the paperwork required and they decided they couldn't be arsed.

From a practical point of view, making a two-line script to apply your patch every time you download a new version of Ogre is much easier than doing any kind of paperwork. You may be missing on potential contributions from people who just contribute for practical reasons.

(For the record, I've contributed patches to 3 BSD or MIT licensed projects that were accepted, and I've never had to sign anything)
0 x

CABAListic
OGRE Retired Team Member
OGRE Retired Team Member
Posts: 2903
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 2:48 pm
Contact:

Re: Contribution agreement still necessary after switch to M

Post by CABAListic » Thu Dec 06, 2012 4:36 pm

If the wording of the agreement scares you, let us know, we may need to revise it. (Because you are right about that, it's been written before the license switch and was meant to address some other issues that are no longer relevant, so it could probably be simplified.)

Even so, not every contribution necessarily requires a signed agreement. If it's a relatively simple modification that you want to submit (particularly two-line bug fixes and similar things), that's usually fine.

Also, for the record, it's not the MIT license that would be in doubt before a court, but rather our rights to put contributed code under that license. People could argue they never actually intended certain code to be applied to the codebase. Alternatively, if someone were using Ogre in violation of the MIT license (which is admittedly a lot harder than violating LGPL, but not impossible) and we wanted to pursue said violation, we also need the agreement to actually have the rights to pursue the violation in the name of the team and the contributors. Granted, either case is (hopefully) very unlikely, but given the number of commercial projects relying on Ogre, I believe it's better to be cautious.
0 x

Tiffer
Kobold
Posts: 36
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:00 pm

Re: Contribution agreement still necessary after switch to M

Post by Tiffer » Thu Dec 06, 2012 4:55 pm

I understand the legal issues, I think it's good to cover your ass, I also do it whenever possible.

There's nothing that scares me really. Just giving feedback. Logic tells me that that agreement must have scared a few potential contributors away already, so if it wasn't really necessary, I was just suggesting to get rid of it, but if it is necessary, then cool.

Myself, I'll just wait for now and when I have a few patches eventually it will make sense to just sign the agreement for practical reasons. I don't want to give away my personal info just for this.

You just have to weigh in the pros and cons, specially if you are a person who values his privacy a lot like me. It's the matter of giving my name away to yet another entity (and signature and address and phone!). What if your contributors list is leaked? Not a big deal, but people will then be able to relate my personal information to my internet nickname. So you have to consider, is it worth the risk for a small irrelevant fix that I can apply myself automatically? Nop. For a bunch of them, perhaps in areas where merging becomes complicated? Then yes, it's worth it. I would just encourage you to take a hard look at the situation and see if this barrier to contributions is worth it.
0 x

CABAListic
OGRE Retired Team Member
OGRE Retired Team Member
Posts: 2903
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 2:48 pm
Contact:

Re: Contribution agreement still necessary after switch to M

Post by CABAListic » Thu Dec 06, 2012 4:58 pm

As I said, if it's a straight-forward, quick fix, then chances are the contributor agreement isn't necessary. Feel free to just report the bug in our trackers, attach your patch if you want (you can even mention explicitly you agree to the MIT license), and if we feel the patch is big enough that we'd need the agreement, we'll let you know or perhaps solve the problem differently altogether.
0 x

bstone
OGRE Expert User
OGRE Expert User
Posts: 1920
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:24 pm
Location: Russia

Re: Contribution agreement still necessary after switch to M

Post by bstone » Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:23 pm

Yeah, don't let that stop you. I didn't want to sign the agreement for the similar reasons but I still submitted a simple patch once and it has been given attention even without the signed paper.
0 x

Tiffer
Kobold
Posts: 36
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:00 pm

Re: Contribution agreement still necessary after switch to M

Post by Tiffer » Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:32 pm

Ah! Ok, I will do that :)
0 x

User avatar
sparkprime
Ogre Magi
Posts: 1137
Joined: Mon May 07, 2007 3:43 am
Location: Ossining, New York
Contact:

Re: Contribution agreement still necessary after switch to M

Post by sparkprime » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:39 pm

One thing that is crucially important is having a signed statement that the contributor's work is actually their own (and not copy/pasted from a proprietary engine for example).
0 x

User avatar
Zonder
Ogre Magi
Posts: 1133
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 7:51 pm
Location: Manchester - England
x 22

Re: Contribution agreement still necessary after switch to M

Post by Zonder » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:46 am

You could always just post your changes into paper cuts if it's small
0 x
There are 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary, and those who don't...

Post Reply