Frequently asked questions
Here are answers to some common questions about the arrangements for contributing to projects. These FAQs cover the contributor licence agreement in use since July 2011.
Why do you ask contributors to send in the agreement?
We need to make sure that we ‐ and the users of our software ‐ are legally entitled to distribute your contributed code, anywhere in the world.
Can the Copyright Licence Agreement be signed without a Launchpad account?
Yes. The PDF copies are editable forms. Please fill in your details and return by plain- or digitally‐signed email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Do I have to send a new copy of the agreement for each project I contribute to?
No — you only need to send one signed copy. It covers you for all Canonical projects, now and in the future. After you submit it for one Canonical project, you will not have to worry about it again.
Why are there two separate documents, one for individuals and one for companies?
The two are mostly the same. Individuals may be minors or they might need permission from their employer, while companies need to think about their affiliates.
Didn’t Canonical previously use a different agreement?
Yes, up until July 2011 we used the Canonical Contributor Agreement 2.5. With the launch of the Harmony contributor agreements, we decided to switch to one of their standard templates, a Harmony Contributor licence agreement. The old agreement is still available for reference, but we are not asking for anyone new to sign it.
If I signed the old agreement, do I need to sign the new one too?
No. If you previously accepted the Canonical Contributor Agreement 2.5 (or earlier), your future contributions will continue to be covered by that. However, if you wish, you can sign the new Contributor licence agreement, in which case the terms of the new agreement will cover any new contributions.
What’s the difference between the new agreement and the old one?
One difference between the two is that the old agreement was a copyright assignment agreement (where the contributor granted ownership of the contribution to Canonical), while the new one is a copyright licence agreement (where the contributor grants permission for Canonical to distribute the contribution). One new element is a promise back to you to release your contribution under the licence in place when they made the contribution. The new agreement also features some refinements in the language around software patents and how you disclaim warranties.
Who owns the copyright?
You do. Section 2.1(a) states the following:
“You retain ownership of the Copyright in Your Contribution and have the same rights to use or license the Contribution which You would have had without entering into the Agreement.”
Can I contribute the same code to other projects as well?
Yes. You retain the full rights to redistribute your own code as you wish. The agreement is not exclusive and you may contribute what you write to as many other projects or organisations as you wish to share it with.
What if I have other questions?
The best person to ask is the coordinator for the project you’re contributing to. All the coordinators are listed on the main open source projects directory.