New copyright policy explained

On 2018-09-15 meeting, the Trustees have given the final stamp of approval to the new Gentoo copyright policy outlined in GLEP 76. This policy is the result of work that has been slowly progressing since 2005, and that has taken considerable speed by the end of 2017. It is a major step forward from the status quo that has been used since the forming of Gentoo Foundation, and that mostly has been inherited from earlier Gentoo Technologies.

The policy aims to cover all copyright-related aspects, bringing Gentoo in line with the practices used in many other large open source projects. Most notably, it introduces a concept of Gentoo Certificate of Origin that requires all contributors to confirm that they are entitled to submit their contributions to Gentoo, and corrects the copyright attribution policy to be viable under more jurisdictions.

This article aims to shortly reiterate over the most important points in the new copyright policy, and provide a detailed guide on following it in Q&A form.

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The story of Gentoo management

I have recently made a tabular summary of (probably) all Council members and Trustees in the history of Gentoo. I think that this table provides a very succinct way of expressing the changes within management of Gentoo. While it can’t express the complete history of Gentoo, it can serve as a useful tool of reference.

What questions can it answer? For example, it provides an easy way to see how many terms individuals have served, or how long Trustee terms were. You can clearly see who served both on the Council and on the Board and when those two bodies had common members. Most notably, it collects a fair amount of hard-to-find data in a single table.

Can you trust it? I’ve put an effort to make the developer lists correct but given the bad quality of data (see below), I can’t guarantee complete correctness. The Trustee term dates are approximate at best, and oriented around elections rather than actual term (which is hard to find). Finally, I’ve merged a few short-time changes such as empty seats between resignation and appointing a replacement, as expressing them one by one made little sense and would cause the tables to grow even longer.

This article aims to be the text counterpart to the table. I would like to tell the history of the presented management bodies, explain the sources that I’ve used to get the data and the problems that I’ve found while working on it.

As you could suspect, the further back I had to go, the less good data I was able to find. The problems included the limited scope of our archives and some apparent secrecy of decision-making processes at the early time (judging by some cross-posts, the traffic on -core mailing list was significant, and it was not archived before late 2004). Both due to lack of data, and due to specific interest in developer self-government, this article starts in mid-2003.

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A short history of Gentoo copyright

As part of the recent effort into forming a new copyright policy for Gentoo, a research into the historical status has been conducted. We’ve tried to establish all the key events regarding the topic, as well as the reasoning behind the existing policy. I would like to shortly note the history based on the evidence discovered by Robin H. Johnson, Ulrich Müller and myself.

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Copyright 101 for Gentoo contributors

While the work on new Gentoo copyright policy is still in progress, I think it would be reasonable to write a short article on copyright in general, for the benefit of Gentoo developers and contributors (proxied maintainers, in particular). There are some common misconceptions regarding copyright, and I would like to specifically focus on correcting them. Hopefully, this will reduce the risk of users submitting ebuilds and other files in violation of copyrights of other parties.

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