[cgl_discussion] Re: [Ksummit-2004-discuss] CGL

Timothy D. Witham wookie at osdl.org
Tue Jan 27 06:28:40 PST 2004

Big snip - I will only comment on the agreement piece.

> > Even for the people who wanted to try and contribute constructively,
> > it was extremely painful, one had to deal with silly silly paper forms
> > and snail mail just to get access to an 'Open Source' project.
> The CGL Participation Agreement was created because OSDL felt that there
> needs to be an agreement that makes sure that all documents CGL creates
> are "free" of IPR problems, and it was also OSDL's idea to require this
> on paper. I'll let Tim to go into more detail on that, if he wants.
   There is an agreement for the working group.  Because we are working
on a specification we sat back an looked at what could go wrong in
the IP area.  The one thing that struck us as a real issue is people
or companies trying to get their IP Restricted or IPR or "The stuff
they will be able to charge the rest of the world a lot of money
for even thought it doesn't really make sense." (My words).  There
is no open source license that covers this issue and there is one
very visible area in the standards area where this has become a
problem. Anybody following the issue with what a single company did
with the memory standards?  The agreement is really quite simple
as these things go it just says that anything you (individual or
company) put into the specification gives the right to implement
this in open source.  It does not provide any rights to other
folks IP or give anybody the right to implement it in closed source.

   Of course if I expect companies to sign this agreement before 
they can participate I should expect an individual to sign the
same agreement. And yes a paper copy is required because a paper
copy is the only thing that would let us enforce it in court. 
And I have been approached by companies wanting to participate
but unwilling to because they would of had to "donate IP to the
open source community."  This agreement allowed me to tell them
that when they were willing to accept the IP model of open source
they should come back but without agreeing to open source license
free implementation there was no point in their showing up.

> > Ben really hit it smack on with his comment: "The whole 'closed
> > working group from big companies' thing makes me sick".
   Again any individual can join and some have and while they haven't
been as active as I would of liked they did sign up.  But lets face
it the issues that relate to the carriers are big company issues so
realistically I would only expect somebody working for a big company
to actively participate in this sort of group as they are the only
people with this sort of itch. 

   Yes, there is the additional rule that we are explicitly stating 
that anything you suggest that we work together on as a group the
world has the right to implement in open source.  For that agreement
up front we have to put up with a little different paperwork model.

> > So sorry if this sounds a little harsh, however I believe that this is
> > how a lot of people in the community feels about doing development
> > this way. It just doesn't work. Even if you have a brilliant spec once
> > you're done, you a likely to face a lot of resistance when you publish
> > it as the community in general dislikes to be told what to do.
   I think that you are reading the specification wrong.  This is what
a group of people who understand a vertical market segment have gotten
together and decided is their itch.  In many respects it is no more 
than a individual saying, these are the 5 things I need before I
can use Linux to do any other task.  And yes some of the things
the group comes up with will be wrong and will need to be changed but
that is the way of the world.  

   As for people beating other folks up using the specification. Well
yes that will happen but given that I believe in free will I'm not sure
what I can do about that other than point out bad behavior when I
see it.


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Timothy D. Witham - Lab Director - wookie at osdl.org
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