Draft: License policy for contributors

Adam Jackson ajax at nwnk.net
Tue Dec 2 10:48:31 PST 2008

In light of the recent GLX relicensing, it was brought up to the board
that our contribution policy is not really explicitly written down
anywhere.  The following is a licensing policy draft that's hopefully
pretty uncontentious.  Eventually this (or something like it) will go up
on the wiki, and patches from casual contributors should be accepted
with a note to the contributor of what they're agreeing to (and new
developers should be pointed at it when getting their commit bit).

Note that this isn't a _change_ in policy so much as an attempt to
capture what we already intend.  If you think this is a good opportunity
to lobby for a switch to GPL or CDDL or WTFPL or whatever, that's nice
and all, but please don't.

I don't know what our documentation licensing stance is.  MIT would keep
things simple, but I don't know if it's appropriate for docs.

At any rate, feedback greatly appreciated.


The X.Org Foundation is dedicated to improving the open source reference
implementation of the X Window System for the benefit of all.  To this
end, code and documentation contributions are required to be under a
suitably permissive license.  The preferred code license is the MIT
license; the canonical form of the MIT license is here: [ insert link to
version with generic "THE AUTHORS" rather than explicit author names ].

[ XXX doc license? ]

For small changes, including patches sent through a bug tracker or
mailing list, changes are assumed to be under the MIT license.  If you
do not agree to this, please refrain from sending us such patches in the
first place, and ask to have your changes reverted if necessary.

For contributions of new code and large subsystems, the code must be
annotated with a copy of the MIT license (or a reference to same).
Contributions under licenses other than MIT will be considered on a case
by case basis, but in general are very unlikely to be accepted.

Foundation developers are defined as those people with commit access to
the Foundation repositories.  In applying for (and accepting) developer
status, you implicitly agree to these license policy terms for the
Foundation works themselves.  Note that your right to create derived
works under different licenses is not restricted, they just won't be
formal Foundation projects.

For all changes, you as contributor warrant that you have the right to
contribute the code in question under the license terms described here.

For its part, the Foundation will work to maintain permissive grant of
rights for all code and documentation in its projects.  In the event
that the Foundation decides to change licensing on one or more files,
permission will only be sought from copyright holders as listed in the
explicit Copyright statements at the top of the appropriate files.
Casual contributions without assertions of copyright will not be
interpreted as an assignment or relinquishing of copyright, but will be
interpreted as a waiver of interest in the precise license terms.

Note that under the terms of the MIT license, you effectively already
waive your right to prevent use of your work under more restrictive
terms (for example, under the GPLv2), and that it's quite difficult to
come up with a more permissive license than MIT.  The waiver in the
previous paragraph is really only for the case that we somehow discover
that, for example, a file was really under the Apache license and we
needed to relicense it to maintain MIT-ness, or that some clause of MIT
becomes unpleasantly restrictive in some jurisdiction.


- ajax
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