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CVS Table of Contents Last edited by paul on Sep 25, 2001 3:13 pm

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 for contributors.

  1. 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 contribution.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 status.

    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 OpenOfficex.

    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.

  4. 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 terms.

  5. 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 than us.

    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.

  6. 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.

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