cpython-withatomic / Misc / legalfaq.txt

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Frequently Asked Questions about CNRI's legal policy regarding
contributions to Python

If you have a question that isn't answered here, please write

Q. What are the legal requirements for contributions to Python?

CNRI's lawyers recommend that we collect legal agreements for all new
contributions.  For small contributions, a simple two-paragraph note
in the email containing the contribution suffices (see
bugrelease.txt).  For more substantial contribution, we require a
mailed signed copy of a simple form (see wetsign.txt).  We have tried
to make the legal language as simple as possible.

Q. Why does CNRI require this?

In order to make it possible to protect Python against potential
infringements.  Other organizations that distribute free software do
the similar things; for example, the GNU project requires a much more
strongly worded form, assigning all copyrights to the Free Software
Foundation, for all contributions to GNU software.

Q. When is a contribution small enough to require only an email note?

This is determined by us on a per-contribution basis.  Up to 20 lines
of patches typically qualify as small; however if you manage to do
something truly spectacular in 20 lines or less we may ask you to send
in the signature form anyway.

Q. I have contributed to Python in the past.  Should I sign and mail
in a form now?

Yes, please.  We are in the process of getting wet signatures for all
major contributions to Python up to now.  If you contributed a module
or more, we'll try to get in touch with you; you can save us the
effort and mail us the signed form right away!

Q. Do I have to accurately list everything I contributed?

No.  If you made multiple contributions in the past, it is sufficient
to write in the form under "description" something like "everything
I've contributed until &lt;date&gt;."  If you continue to make
significant contributions in the future, you can send us an update
form using a similar formulation every once in a while.

Q. Can I send in a form to cover all my future contributions?

No.  However it's okay if you send in a form, say, once a year,
covering all your contributions from the last time you sent one in
until the date you sign the new form.

Q. Does the form protect me against copyright or patent infringement

If you infringe somebody's rights, no form in the world that you sign
can protect you.  The form only protects CNRI, because the act of
collecting the forms shows that CNRI is doing "due diligence"
regarding asserting the origin of contributions.

Q. Does the form protect me against claims from damage resulting from
use of my contribution?

We have reluctantly added a paragraph wherein you disclaim all
warranties etc.  You may see this as some form of protection.  However
the law regarding such disclaimers is complicated and varies widely
between states and countries, and the particular disclaimer used on
the form may not cover you in all cases.

Q. Does the form transfer my copyrights to CNRI?

No.  CNRI only gets certain non-exclusive rights.  See the form for
the exact list of rights.

Q. If I don't sign, will my past contributions be removed from Python?

That is up to CNRI's lawyers to decide.