David Pick D.M.Pick at qmw.ac.uk
Tue Nov 10 18:11:16 CET 1998

> >I hope the low frequency of patches is mostly due to my restrictive
> >handling of patches (due to the FSF requirements) :-)
> I once send something in --- to start, I send a little documentation 
> update. Werner immediately said back "No, you have to sign something, 
> otherwise I can't accept stuff from you" (which is PERFECTLY ok, I 
> don't want to ... hmmm, in German I would say that "dass ich Werner 
> nicht an den Karren pinkeln wuerde" but I guess that an english 
> translation totally looses the meaning :-)
> However, I tried to get some answer from FSF.ORG, from "info 
> standards" and also from Werner WHAT to actually sign, but never really 
> with any usable response. "info standards" for example just says:
> -----------------------------------------
>    If someone else sends you a piece of code to add to the program you
> are working on, we need legal papers to use it--the same sort of legal
> papers we will need to get from you.  *Each* significant contributor to
> a program must sign some sort of legal papers in order for us to have
> clear title to the program.  The main author alone is not enough.

The way I read this is that Werner had to sign some legal paper(s) to
certify that the code he was writing would belong to the FSF so that
they could hold the copyright and issue it under the GPL. (Is that
right, Werner?) So if someone else makes a *significant* contribution
the FSF need the same papers signed by them because if they didn't
that individual could claim standard legal copyright later and cause
a lot of problems. I would not expect simple bug-fixes like the GDBM
problemette to fall into the category of a "significant contribution".
However, a new mode of operation or command would.

>    So, before adding in any contributions from other people, tell us so
> we can arrange to get the papers.  Then wait until we tell you that we
> have received the signed papers, before you actually use the
> contribution.

This is an instruction to *Werner* not to incorporate any "significant
contribution" until the necessary documents have been signed. *He*
has to tell the FSF, who will contact the contributor, who will sign
the papers and return them to the FSF, who will tell Werner that he can
go ahead.

> -----------------------------------------
> However, it says not WHAT channel to use to "tell them" (e-mail, fax,
> phone, letter) nor does the www.fsf.org website. So it's still a big
> obscurity to me and I won't send in any patches anymore.

But if I'm right (very big if!) we can send things to Werner and he
has to decide if they are "significant" - and hopefully he has some
guidelines from the FSF.

>                                                          For exampl,e
> it would have been totally easy for me to make a patch (or using CVS
> if that is ok) for the GDBM-not-installed problem. But because no one 
> so far could tell me what to sign I could not check and sign anything, 
> so Werner can't accept anything but "unsignifant" from me so the world 
> has to life without my contributions.
> Hmm, maybe that's better for the world anyway :-)

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