The GCC Steering Committee approved Few days ago the end of the mandatory transfer of code ownership rights to the Open Source Foundation. With this new change, developers who wish to submit changes to the GCC are no longer required to sign a CLA with the Free Software Foundation, that is, to participate in the development, from now on, you can only confirm that the developer has the right to transfer the code and does not attempt to appropriate someone else's code.
Developers who do not want to sign a CLA agreement with the Free Software Foundation have the opportunity to use the terms Developer Certificate of Origin (DCO), that have been applied since 2004 when transferring changes to the Linux kernel.
According to DCO rules, author tracking is done by attaching a line "Signed by: developer name and email" to each change. By attaching this signature to the patch, the developer confirms his authorship of the transferred code and accepts its distribution as part of the project or as part of the code under a free license.
If previously the developers signed a special agreement that transfers all rights ownership of the code to the Open Source Foundation, now such an agreement is signed at will and the developer can retain the rights to its code. Therefore, the ownership rights to the GCC code will now be distributed between the Open Source Foundation and the development participants who did not sign the agreement.
Such a distribution complicates the change in the terms of distribution of the project, since to change the license it will be necessary to obtain the personal consent of each developer that it has not assigned the rights to the Open Source Foundation. At the same time, the termination of the transfer of rights to the Free Software Foundation will not complicate a possible transition to future versions of the GPL license, as GCC is distributed under the "GPLv3 or newer version" license, which allows the license to be changed. of GPLv4 without separate approval from each developer.
Of the positive effects of the denial of the mandatory transfer of rights to the code, there is an increase in the attractiveness of participation in the development of CCG by corporations and employees of large companies, who previously needed to additionally coordinate the signing of an agreement in various instances and legal services. For example,
By concentrating property rights in the same hands, the Open Source Foundation acted as guarantor of the preservation of the invariability of the policy of distributing project code only under free licenses and carried out the task of protecting the community from changing course. originally planned from the development of the project (for example, it blocked the possible introduction of a commercial / dual license or the launch of closed proprietary products under a separate agreement with the authors of the code).
La The Free Software Foundation may also participate in the resolution of legal disputes on behalf of the developers. and make decisions on your own about changing the license conditions (for example, forcing the transition to a new version of the GPL license).
Some developers were criticized by the actions of the GCC steering committee, which approved the decision without prior discussion in the community. By the way, the discussion was, but she focused on continuing the cooperation with the former GCC GNU Project and the Foundation for ACT. Echoes of this discussion can be traced to the phrase mentioned in the announcement "GCC was created as part of the GNU project, but has grown to act as a separate project."
The concern is that without centralized ownership of the entire code, confusion could arise when negotiating licensing issues. If previously all claims about the violation of license conditions were resolved through interaction with an organization, now the outcome of violations, including unintentional ones, becomes unpredictable and requires agreement with each individual participant.