Contribution agreements (Re: [sldev] What is the point offirstlook and giving feedback to LL)

Richard M Stallman rms at
Sun May 4 13:08:39 PDT 2008

Please forgive the delay in my response.  I have been very overloaded.

Allowing the contributor of a change to use his own code
however he wishes, even after he has contributed it to
the original program, is the right thing to do.  But I think
it is not enough to deal with this issue.

The possibility I would like to avoid is that the developer might
include my code in a non-free version while not including it in his
comparable free version.  If he did that, then my contribution would
primarily aid non-free software.  Even though I would be allowed to
add it myself to a free fork -- supposing there is one -- that would
not be enough to change the situation.

So I think that we should call on such developers to make a promise
such as, "If we include your code in a non-free version, we will
include your code with equal functionality and technical advantahes in
a free version, and that free version will have all the features and
capabilities that are common to that non-free version and the free
version you improved."

With that promise, you will know that your code will contribute to a
free version that isn't just demoware.

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