Downloading and Installation
Contributions and Development Projects
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
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
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
- Why are Red Hat so slow in processing copyright assignments and
the FSF so slow at setting up a process to accept eCos copyright
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
- 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
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
- 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