Monday, July 23, 2007

New contributor agreement for NetBeans

I don't know the legal details that much, but I have heard people complain about the NetBeans contributor agreement.

I recently got an email on the NetBeans announce alias from Darin Reick at Sun, and it looks like Sun has made some changes to make it more palatable.

New Contributor Agreement for the NetBeans Community
An updated version of the Contributor Agreement (v1.4) has been posted on The new version makes it clear that contributions made by signatories cannot be usurped by Sun Microsystems as the joint copyright owner and used ONLY under a closed license. All open source projects sponsored by Sun are adopting this new standard Contributor Agreement. The Contributor Agreement is not product specific, so by signing once, you may contribute to all open source projects sponsored by Sun.
  • Specifically, the Contributor Agreement v. 1.4:
    • Added a promise to make contributions available under open source license (last sentence of Section 2).
    • Added a backup copyright license to Sun in the event the joint assignment to Sun is invalid for some reason (3rd sentence of Section 2).
    • Cleaned up some language.
IMHO, this is a Big Deal for NetBeans, as it removes a big hurdle for folks who would like to contribute.

Note that it's the same agreement as is used for all other Sun-sponsored open source products, like Open Solaris, OpenJDK, and Glassfish. This means you only need to sign the agreement once, and you're free to contribute to all these projects. Pretty cool.

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