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The Samba project has decided to allow corporate contributions of code, according to a message posted to its mailing lists by senior developer Jeremy Allison.


Samba is an award-winning free software file, print and authentication server suite for Windows clients. The project was begun by Australian Andrew Tridgell.

The project has in the past preferred to have code contributions from individuals because, Allison explained, "it's much easier to work with individuals who have ownership than corporate legal departments if we ever need to make reasonable compromises with people using and working with Samba".

However, with help from the Software Freedom Law Centre, Allison said a standard contract had been drawn up to enable those who could not obtain copyright assignment from the employers to donate code.

"If you're doing Samba changes on behalf of a company who normally owns all the work you do please get them to assign
personal copyright ownership of your changes to you as an individual, that makes things very easy for us to work with and avoids bringing corporate legal departments into the picture," he wrote.

The Samba project has designed a developer's certificate of origin and once a developer signs this and sends it to the project from his employer's official email address, then the code contribution can be accepted.

"We use a process very similar to the way things are done in the Linux kernel community, so it should be very easy to get a sign off from your corporate legal department," Allison wrote.

"The only changes we've made are to accommodate the licenses (sic) we use, which are GPLv3 and LGPLv3 (or later) whereas the Linux kernel uses GPLv2."

Copyright of code came to the fore in the free and open source software community back in March 2003 when the SCO Group announced that it had sued IBM over breach of contract, claiming that IBM had contributed code which it (SCO) owned to the Linux kernel project.

After that, every project took particular care to ensure that all code had assignment so that there was no room for controversy.

Many court cases later, SCO's claims turned out to be just that and the company has been soundly defeated.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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