The Freedom Task Force of the Free Software Foundation Europe has produced a Fiduciary Licence Agremment (FLA) whose scope is to centralize the copyright of a Free Software project into a single entity which acts fiduciarily to the benefit of the whole community. KDE, one of the largest Free Software (Open Source) Projects in the world has adopted it to manage its developer's copyright.
Essentially, any developer holds the copyright of the software he/she authors, which means that for complex projects, any developer would have a say in any major decision regarding the software, with frequent problems in terms of flexibility and management (including litigation). The fiduciary licence aims at simplifying this process, by assigning the copyright to an entity as KDE e.V. which is not “salable” and therefore provides sufficient safeguards as to the possible hijacking of the project for nefarious reasons.
Here below the text of the press release, for further dissemination.
FSFE welcomes KDE's adoption of the Fiduciary Licence Agreement (FLA)
Free Software Foundation Europe welcomes the adoption of the Fiduciary Licence Agreement by the K Desktop Environment project. The FLA is a copyright assignment that allows Free Software projects to assign their copyright to single organisation or person. This enables projects to ensure their legal maintainability, including important issues such as preserving the ability to re-license and certainty to have sufficient rights to enforce licences in court.
“We see the adoption of the FLA by KDE as a positive and important milestone in the maturity of the Free Software community,” says Georg Greve, president of Free Software Foundation Europe. “The FLA was designed to help projects increase the legal maintainability of their software to ensure long-term protection and reliability. KDE is among the most important Free Software initiatives and it is playing a central role in bringing freedom to the desktop.
This decision of the KDE project underlines its dedication to think about how to make that freedom last.” Adriaan de Groot, Vice President of KDE e.V., the organisation behind the KDE project, said “KDE e.V. has endorsed the use of a particular FLA based directly on the FSFE's sample FLA as the preferred way to assign copyright to the association. We recognise that assignment is an option that individuals may wish to exercise; it is in no way pushed upon KDE contributors. There are also other avenues of copyright assignment available besides the FLA, but we believe this is the easiest way to get it done, with little fuss. Enthusiasm for the FLA was immediate — people were asking for printed versions of the form before the week was out so that they could fill one in.”
“The FLA is a versatile document designed to work across different countries with different perceptions of copyright and authorship,” says Shane Coughlan, Freedom Task Force coordinator. “As a truly international project, KDE provides a great example of how the FLA can provide legal coherency in the mid-to-long term. It's been a pleasure to help with the adoption process and FSFE's Freedom Task Force is ready to continuing supporting KDE in the future.” KDE's adoption of the FLA is the result of cooperation between KDE e.V. and FSFE's Freedom Task Force over the last year and a half, part of the deepening collaboration between the two associate organisations.
About the FLA:
The FLA was written by Dr. Axel Metzger (Ifross) and Georg Greve (FSFE) in consultation with renowned international legal and technical experts. Parties involved in the evolution of the FLA at some point or another included RA Dr. Till Jaeger, Carsten Schulz, Prof. Eben Moglen, RA Thorsten Feldmann, LL.M., Werner Koch, Alessandro Rubini, Reinhard Muller and others. The latest revision was compiled by Georg Greve and FSFE's FTF coordinator Shane M Coughlan based on feedback provided by Dr. Lucie Guibault of the Institute for Information Law in the Netherlands.
KDE is an international technology team that creates free and open source software for desktop and portable computing. Among KDE's products are a modern desktop system for Linux and UNIX platforms, comprehensive office productivity and groupware suites and hundreds of software titles in many categories including Internet and web applications, multimedia, entertainment, educational, graphics and software development. KDE software is translated into more than 60 languages and is built with ease of use and modern accessibility principles in mind. KDE4's full-featured applications run natively on Linux, BSD, Solaris, Windows and Mac OS X.
About the Free Software Foundation Europe:
The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a non-profit non-governmental organisation active in many European countries and involved in many global activities. Access to software determines participation in a digital society. To secure equal participation in the information age, as well as freedom of competition, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) pursues and is dedicated to the furthering of Free Software, defined by the freedoms to use, study, modify and copy. Founded in 2001, creating awareness for these issues, securing Free Software politically and legally, and giving people Freedom by supporting development of Free Software are central issues of the FSFE.
The Freedom Task Force can be found at http://www.fsfeurope.org/ftf/ The Freedom Task Force can be emailed at ftf at fsfeurope.org
You can reach the FSFE switchboard from:
Belgium: +32 2 747 03 57
Germany: +49 700 373 38 76 73
Sweden: +46 31 7802160
Switzerland: +41 43 500 03 66
UK: +44 29 200 08 17 7
Shane Coughlan, FTF Coordinator, FSFE extension: 408
Further information: http://fsfeurope.org