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(Answer) (Category) eCos FAQ : (Category) Contributing back to the eCos community :
Why do I need to sign a copyright assignment?

If a contribution involves a significant change to part of the core system, for example the kernel, then usually we will need a copyright assignment before we can incorporate the changes into the system. The reason for this is to protect the community at large. In theory there is no need for copyright assignments because all changes to code covered by the eCos public license are also covered by that license. In practice copyright assignment provides a useful extra level of protection.

As an example, consider a scenario where a junior programmer makes a change to the system and releases it without the knowledge or consent of management. Some time later management finds out about the contribution, and decides that it should not have happened. The junior programmer gets severely reprimanded. The company's lawyers now approach various users of eCos, claiming that the contribution violated the company's copyright or quite possibly a patent, and demanding royalties. Until the issue gets resolved there would be a significant amount of fear, uncertainty, and doubt amongst the development community. This would be very harmful. The process of copyright assignment should prevent this and many other scenarios from ever arising, because it includes having a disclaimer signed by an officer of the company or a person with the necessary authority.

We are aware that copyright assignments involve an unpleasant amount of bureaucracy for many contributors, especially since we have to deal with the paperwork at the other end. However, we believe that the additional protection offered is necessary for the eCos user community as a whole.

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