[TOS] Textbook authors: Copyright Assignment, please respond

Karsten Wade kwade at redhat.com
Wed Sep 23 16:52:55 UTC 2009

On Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 03:47:07PM +0000, Frank Hecker wrote:
> 2009/9/22 Karsten Wade <kwade at redhat.com>:
> > In that case, I am firmly on the side of doing a CLA for everyone.  I
> > don't see any reason to object.  I know they can be a barrier to
> > entry, but it's a minimal barrier for what is always going to be a
> > relatively small-sized project.  What we can is important, including
> > clarity on how to meld content.  As long as the CLA doesn't permit
> > relicensing under a more restrictive license, there shouldn't be a
> > reason to object signing it.
> I presume your concern is the CLA second party (e.g., Mozilla if we
> were to sign up for that) doing something like licensing under
> CC-BY-NC-SA instead of CC-BY-SA? In that regard, most CLAs have a
> fairly broad grant of rights, so we'd need explicit language in the
> CLA (or a side agreement of some sort) to restrict the range of
> possible licenses.

I'm not thinking of a specific scenario other than one I've

If contributors to the Fedora wiki were given a choice of CLA or not,
it would be effectively impossible to relicense the content.  There
are thousands of contributors over a multi-year period.  I wouldn't
want to undertake contacting all of the non-CLA people to get their
permission to change to a new license.

The Fedora CLA permits relicensing (it says, "sub-license", fwiw) with
a license that is at least as liberal as the existing license.  Thus,
there wouldn't be a worry about adding an NC clause.  With that CLA,
we are relicensing that work from the deprecated OPL to the CC-BY-SA.

So, my concern is exactly along those lines.  If we have a blend of
content in the TOS book where a single paragraph may consist of
content covered by the CLA and not covered by the CLA, we would make
it very difficult or effectively impossible to relicense/sub-license
in the future.

In such a scenario, we are essentially in the same situation as if we
didn't have a CLA at all.  Thus my personal conclusion -- either do a
CLA for everyone or don't bother doing it for anyone.  Sure, we could
do it to assuage some contributors, but it would be just a paper

- Karsten
Karsten 'quaid' Wade, Community Gardener
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