Thursday, April 05, 2012

Enter the WebODF CLA

The word of the day is: CLA

...ok, so that's not actually a word, but rather an initialism ;) Hi everybody! Some of you already know me, though mainly as that guy who has funny hair and talks about Gluon a lot. Today, however, i come to you in my new guise, as the guy who's going to be talking a whole lot about WebODF over the next while!

So, what's this WebODF thing, some of you say? Well, if you've got some ODF files (word processing, spreadsheets...) and want to show them on the web somehow, then you'll want to check out WebODF. Based on HTML, CSS and JavaScript, it'll run in just about any browser.

The main topic today, however, is the new Contributor License Agreement for WebODF contributors. This little document describes what rights you as a contributor, and KO GmbH as the maintainer, have to the work you contribute to the WebODF project. So, you may well think, why should do we want you to sign a CLA to contribute work to WebODF? Surely it's already covered by the project's nice, free software license!

One important side effect of the project's reach, which includes the iOS App Store, is that while the project license, the AGPLv3, is fine for most cases, sometimes it is problematic. The CLA allows the maintainer to bypass that issue, and create a product from the AGPLv3 licensed codebase which can be published on the iOS store, which has no in-built way of supplying the source code in the way the license otherwise specifies as a requirement.

In fact, the only app store which does supply a method for doing so is the Intel AppUp Store - not even Android Play allows the application creator to supply their users with easy access to the source for the software they are using. However, again - with the CLA signed by all WebODF contributors, this legally becomes not a problem, and instead becomes just a practical one, which can be worked around through providing links inside the app on these devices.

In short: The CLA allows the project to reach places it would have otherwise been barred from.

If you have any questions about it at all, please do not hesitate to ask! Either here in the comments, or on the WebODF IRC channel over on Freenode, or indeed any of the other contact methods listed on the WebODF website.

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