GNU C Library changes copyright policy for glibc contributors

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The steering committee of the GNU C Library (glibc) has decided that contributors no longer have to automatically transfer their copyrights to the Free Software Foundation (FSF). The changes for glibc will take effect on August 2, 2021 and will be effective for all ongoing development branches of the Library project. From this point onwards, everyone who contributes code to the glibc project is free to decide whether they want to apply their patches with or without transferring rights to the FSF.

The automatic transfer of copyright to the FSF was previously common practice in the projects of the GNU family, but recently numerous free software projects such as the Linux kernel or the GCC compiler collection have been abandoned and the so-called copyright assignment policy has been relaxed or even abolished.

The decision of the glibc stewards was preceded by a public opinion-forming process: The community was able to comment on the proposal and take a position on it; a corresponding appeal was distributed via the Libc-alpha mailing list in mid-June. The background to this is a heated debate about the return of GNU founder Richard Stallman to the Free Software Foundation.

The Developer Certificate of Origin is now a recommendation for anyone who decides not to transfer the copyright to the FSF. Anyone who uses this method will in future have to set an additional tag with the content “Signed-off-by” within Git in order to be noted as the author of the code donation. There are no changes to the license of the glibc project: The GNU C Library will apparently continue to use the LGPL (GNU Lesser General Public License) of the FSF from version 2.1 for its development.

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The update of the Copyright Assignment Policy at glibc can be found in the Libc-alpha mailing list.


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