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This page is now obsolete and preserved for archival purposes only. Please refer to the assignments page for current information concerning the eCos copyright assignments process.

Copyright assignments to eCosCentric

As you may be aware, the copyright of the eCos source base has until recently been mostly owned by Red Hat with portions owned by the individual maintainers. The eCos maintainers have now elected that the copyright of future significant contributions to eCos should be assigned to the FSF (Free Software Foundation) instead of Red Hat. This will help ensure legal protection for eCos and its users, as well as to protect the future of eCos.

Unfortunately the FSF are currently unable to accept copyright assignments for eCos. They have confirmed their willingness to do so, and there has been some dissatisfaction with the current arrangements with assigning to Red Hat. However, the discussions with the FSF have been taking longer than anticipated, and there have been a number of occasions where assignments have not been handled as promptly as the maintainers would have hoped, which in turn has delayed contributions. It has also become apparent that Red Hat will not be assigning eCos contributions to the FSF. As a result, to encourage the efficient processing of contributions, and as a stepping stone to FSF ownership, eCosCentric Limited, has offered to process and administer eCos copyright assignments until the FSF are able to fully assume the role.

Unfortunately, eCosCentric may not legally accept eCos copyright assignments on behalf of the FSF. Instead, they are willing to accept copyright assignments of code and documentation for new contributions and have pledged to reassign copyright of that same code to the FSF when the FSF begins accepting eCos copyright assignments. It is eCosCentric's intention to also assign copyright of its own future public contributions to eCos to the FSF.

A declaration has been made by the Managing Director/CEO of eCosCentric Limited. It is a publically stated guarantee to the community that eCosCentric promises to act as a safe repository for assigned copyright, and that this arrangement is temporary.

eCosCentric assignment Q&A

  • Why do I need to assign copyright of my code in order to contribute to eCos?

    Copyright assignments are necessary before contributed code can be incorporated into the main sources to protect the community at large from legal disputes in the future use of this code. The current SCO/IBM/Red Hat dispute is a prime example of the legal difficulties that occur. See also this FAQ entry.

  • Why are Red Hat so slow in processing copyright assignments and the FSF so slow at setting up a process to accept eCos copyright assignments?

    We do not know. However, one possible reason is that their legal and administrative departments are tied up with their legal defense of Linux and the GPL against the likes of SCO. Unfortunately their responsiveness (or rather, lack thereof) has resulted in an ever increasing backlog and a solution is required.

  • Why do you think eCosCentric will be any faster?

    Because the company employs the majority of maintainers and it is in the best interests of eCos, the community and eCosCentric to integrate public eCos contributions back into the mainstream eCos code base as soon as possible. eCosCentric would not be offering this solution if it did not believe it would improve the situation.

  • I have already assigned copyright of code to Red Hat but have not had any response or confirmation from Red Hat that my assignment has been accepted. Can I reassign that code to eCosCentric?

    Unfortunately not. Red Hat will be the legal owners of the code and retain copyright as soon as they counter-sign your assignment forms. However, as soon as Red Hat have confirmed and accepted your copyright assignment, the maintainers will endeavour to include your contribution into the mainstream eCos code base. However, you can complete an eCosCentric copyright assigment form to allow your future contributions to be processed faster.

  • What happens when the FSF begin accepting copyright assignments of eCos contributions?

    eCosCentric will re-assign the copyright of all past and future code contributions it has received from the community to the FSF as well as any public contributions to eCos that eCosCentric have made. The eCos maintainers who also hold individual copyright of portions of eCos will also assign these portions of code to the FSF. The intention is for the FSF to hold the copyright of as much as possible of the public eCos source base.

  • What about the existing copyright of the portions of eCos that is retained by Red Hat?

    Having two copyright holders simply means that both parties will need to be involved in the defence of the copyright should any infringements or legal action against the copyright of eCos occur. As Red Hat have expressed no further interest in eCos, one would hope that they also assign the portions of the copyright to eCos that they own to the FSF to simplify matters. eCos now holds little value to Red Hat as they can no longer sell or license the public code base under another license as they no longer hold all the copyright.

  • Do I need to fill in yet another copyright assignment form when the FSF begin accepting copyright assignments of eCos contributions?

    Hopefully not as eCosCentric will continue to reassign future contributions you make to eCosCentric to the FSF. Hence eCosCentric will consult with the FSF lawyers to ensure that indirect assignment of code through eCosCentric is acceptable. If so, you will not need to fill in an FSF assignment form, otherwise a direct assignment to the FSF will be required for future contributions.

    However, it will be preferrable that you do complete an FSF assignment form anyway for any future code assignments to enable faster and easier tracing of the original contributor in the event of a code dispute.

  • I have assigned copyright of my code to either Red Hat, eCosCentric or the FSF, yet it is still not part of the eCos mainstream code base. Why?

    The chances are either your contribution has slipped through the cracks or the eCos maintainers are not happy with the contribution for whatever reason. eCosCentric cannot guarantee that its acceptance of the copyright of your code contribution will result in your code being integrated into the eCos mainstream code base. The acceptance of the copyright by eCosCentric simply enables the eCos maintainers to integrate your code contribution into the eCos mainstream code base. Please contact the maintainers in this regard once you have received acceptance of the copyright assignment.

  • I have an existing copyright assignment with Red Hat, what should I do?

    Existing copyright assignment agreements in place with Red Hat include a clause that automatically assigns all future eCos contributions. To be sure there is no potential ambiguity with a more recent assignment to eCosCentric, it is recommended that you inform Red Hat that you are cancelling your eCos copyright assignment and will instead no longer be assigning future contributions to Red Hat. If you do so, please also let the eCos maintainers know at

  • What happens if the FSF do not accept copyright assignments of eCos contributions?

    It would surprise us if this happens since it would imply a U-turn on the commitment and discussions already made by the FSF. However, in this event eCosCentric have committed to abide by whatever the maintainers decide with respect to reassignments of the copyright, without precondition.