Press

FSFE presents modernised Fiduciary Licensing Agreement 2.0

on:

The FSFE and ContributorAgreements.org proudly present the revised and updated Fiduciary Licence Agreement 2.0 (FLA-2.0) - a next-generation contributor agreement that makes sure the contributed software always remains Free Software.

The FSFE acknowledges that the licensing of code has been well served by Free Software licences such as the GPL, Apache, BSD, and MPL families. However, managing rights and content within a project over long periods of time is still a complex issue.

To fix this the FSFE with the help of knowledgeable experts drafted the Fiduciary Licence Agreement (FLA) as early as 2002. The FLA is a well-balanced contributor agreement, which gives the trustee, responsible for managing the rights within a Free Software project, power and responsibility to make sure the contributed software always remains free and open. This way the project, together with all the respective contributors, are protected against any misuse of power by a new copyright holder.

The way this works under the FLA is that developers assign an exclusive licence to the trustee (usually a foundation or company, under whose auspices the software lies) and in return they receive a non-exclusive licence of the same extent, as well as a legally binding promise that the code they contributed will forever remain Free Software.

In the last decade, the world of IT has changed quite a bit and, apart from copyright, patents and trade marks have become a serious concern for Free Software projects.

With the last review in 2007, the FLA (version 1.2) was long due an update. So we are delighted to finally unveil the FLA-2.0 – a much improved and modernised version.

The biggest improvements are that the FLA-2.0 now also covers patents and enables more practical licensing options directed towards third parties – including referencing to an external licensing policy. In addition, the new wording is much improved both in its compatibility with more jurisdictions as well as being easier for everybody to understand and apply.

Furthermore, we have joined forces with ContributorAgreements.org and integrated the FLA-2.0 into its Copyright Licensing Agreement (CLA) chooser/generator, in order to make the use of the FLA easier both for projects and for developers. As a side-effect, all CLA on ContributorAgreements.org have been updated as well, following some of the improvements from the FLA.

As is often in FOSS and life, we are merely standing on the shoulders of giants. The current update – while itself taking several industrious years of research and analysis, culminating in a master's thesis – would not have been possible without the authors of the original FLA, as well as a great deal of legal research which was the basis for the ContributorAgreements.org. The sheer community knowledge aggregated in the FLA-2.0 makes me confident that it is more relevant and useful today as ever before.

says Matija Šuklje, former FSFE's Legal Coordinator and the main driving force behind the FLA update.

The revised FLA-2.0 is an outcome of a longstanding and scrupulous collaboration between the FSFE and ContributorAgreements.org. We are pleased to see that collaboration to bear fruits in the shape of the FLA-2.0. We hope that the new FLA will provide developers and Free Software projects with more clarity, while retaining the spirit of the original version.

says Polina Malaja, the FSFE’s Legal Coordinator

We are thrilled to partner with FSFE and to see the new FLA-2.0 go live hand in hand with a new version of our set of standardised contributor agreements. FSFE's passion and especially Matija Šuklje's dedication to modernising the FLA has enabled us to further revise and refine our agreement chooser and we are especially delighted to offer the new FLA-2.0 as one possible agreement to be chosen out different options available at contributoragreements.org

says Catharina Maracke, Team Lead at ContributorAgreements.org

KDE e.V. is the biggest user of the FLA and we are delighted to see this new version released. As a global project we especially appreciate the effort to make it applicable to more jurisdictions and easier to understand for our contributors.

says Lydia Pintscher, President of KDE e.V.