The GNU C Library (glibc) and GNU Portability Library (gnulib) are laying the groundwork to divorce themselves from the troubled Free Software Foundation by removing the requirement for copyright assignment.
This move follows in the footsteps of the same shift by the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) on 2 June.
Like many projects under the GNU umbrella, glibc and gnulib – the GNU Project’s C standard library and a collection of subroutines designed to ease cross-platform porting respectively – allow anyone to contribute code. Those doing so are asked to assign copyright to the Free Software Foundation – for now, at least.
“The changes to accept patches with or without FSF copyright assignment would be effective on August 2nd, and would apply to all open branches.”
Andrew Katz, managing partner and head of tech and IP at Moorcrofts Corporate Law, said of the move: “My view is that the GPL is sufficient in itself. For GPL, licence in = licence out seems to be the fairest approach from both the developers’ and the project’s perspective, and it means that, ultimately, the developers remain in control of their code.
“Recent questions about governance of the FSF (specifically, concerning RMS’s departure and reinstatement) may cause people to be concerned about the quality of that governance as regards licensing decisions. Assigning copyright to an organisation requires a significant amount of trust, and developers may understandably be concerned that trusting a third party (whether a business or a not-for-profit) presents a greater risk than retaining their own rights in the code.”