At KDE, we take licensing of our software very seriously. In order to make licensing code more straight-forward for developers, and easier to evaluate for third parties, we’ve created the licensing policy which can be found on Techbase. With this tool, we provide guidelines for developers which licenses to choose for their code, so that it matches pieces of software that it is shipped alongside with. It also provides insight for those who would like to distribute KDE software to get an idea how our software is structured, license-wise.
There’s another, not too widely known tool we created a few years ago: The Fiduciary License Agreement, or in short FLA. The FLA is a tool that reduces the headache and work for us in case in the future a license used by us need a change. The FLA is a tool to make this process easier, especially in cases where it would otherwise be impossible (imagine the death of a developer, as an example).
The FLA is simply a mechanism that allows the KDE e.V., as steward of the KDE community, to relicense a piece of code in case the original developer cannot do that anymore. Within this process, the KDE e.V. is bound by strict rules. First of all, it has to act within its mission, which is (paraphrased) to do good for KDE and Free software. If you’re interested in a more complete explanation of this, I’d suggest to read Carlo Piana’s article about it.
Signing the FLA is not mandatory for contributing to KDE, but it does make it easier to deal with unforeseen problems, and thus it can save someone in the future a lot of headaches. (Hopefully, for different reasons, we’ll never run into this case, but you never know.) Even if it’s not mandatory, it’s is, as I explained still a very good idea to sign the FLA. If you care about KDE’s future, please consider doing this. You can download the FLA document on ev.kde.org, and send it to our office in Berlin (address is one the same website). You might recall that I’ve written about this topic earlier — so if those guys sign it, you should, too! :-)
Two weeks ago, we had an exciting parcel arrive in the KDE e.V. office, originating from KDAB. KDAB is a software consultancy, which employs many talented KDE hackers, who still contribute to KDE, either in their Free time, or in time alotted by KDAB. The parcel contained FLAs from many KDE contributors who work for KDAB, and KDAB has organised a batch-signing of those FLAs. Obviously, we’re very happy to see this happen, as it future-proofs KDE’s licensing significantly.