Zope Corporation (ZC) is opening the Zope CVS repository to allow checkins
from external contributors. This document provides answers to
frequently asked questions about the Zope CVS approach and policies
How do I become a contributor?
You become a contributor by sending an email to an existing
contributor and expressing interest. The Zope contributors will
discuss it and choose to extend an invitation. This is the same
approach used by the Python community.
Once invited, please fill out the Zope Contributor
Agreement and mail the signed
copy to the address on the form. ZC will then create a CVS login
for you, add you to the committers mailing list, and send you
instructions for committing. Note that your authenticated CVS
commits are considered ongoing legal acceptance of the terms for
Why do you require a real signature?
Good question. The Python community does not require this, but
the Mozilla community does. We're choosing the latter example as
closer to the goals for commercial legal integrity of Zope.
Issues of legal status and indemnity are important to ZC and to
business interests in the Zope community.
What is the joint ownership model?
When a group of people work together on a software project, the
resulting material is available under some kind of terms. In some
cases, the code is just available with no statement of ownership
For many open source projects, the contributor licenses their
contribution to the project but retains the ownership. Examples
include Apache, Mozilla, and Python. In a few open source
projects, however, there is some organizing legal entity like a
corporation and contributors assign their intellectual property to
this entity. Sun takes this approach, so we're told, on
These different approaches have problems, either legal or
political. Hadar Pedhazur at ZC thought up a new approach that
draws from a sound background of case law. Namely, the
contributor and ZC will have joint ownership of the contibutions.
Importantly, ZC will always ensure the contribution will be
available under the open source ZPL license.
What if Zope Corporation gets bought by a Mean Company and takes
all the work closed source?
Essentially, nothing more than would happen now. ZC can't change
the rules on currently-released software. So the horse is out of
the barn and can't be put back in. Also, the Mean Corporation is
just as able to make a closed source product under the previous
model as they would under this new model. Of course, in any model
(except GPL), future contributions can be released under any
Can I provide my contributions under a different license, as
stated in the License section of the Zope Contributor Agreement?
In summary, yes but no. You don't pick the license that you use
when you give it to us. Rather, we pick the license to give it to
others (for our 1/2), and that license is the ZPL. You, however,
can pick any license in the world to give the code to anyone other
This language about a different acceptible license is there in
case we decide at some point to change from the ZPL to a different
open source license.
Does someone have to jump through all these legal hoops just to
submit a small patch?
The contributor agreement certainly is a heavy process for someone
that wants to make a small contribution, such as a patch. These
contributions are just as important to the health of an open
source project as major code work. Thus, Zope should encourage
patch contributions, not create an enormous disincentive. At the
same time, integrity of the code base needs to be maintained.
For small contributions, simply supply them through a
communications channel such as the bug tracker or the mailing
lists. Alternatively, contact a committer or ZC directly. A
committer will then review the patch and assume the legal issues
of committing it themselves. Likely they will contact the patch
submitter and get a confirmation that the patch can be used.
The committers will have some guidelines on recognizing when it is
reasonable to accept a patch. It should be clear when something
has little basis for being deemed intellectual property, versus a
major change with advanced algorithms.