About the MuseScore CLA...

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About the MuseScore CLA...

Tommaso Cucinotta
Hi all,

as I recently happened to have written a patch for MuseScore realizing a
new feature

   http://musescore.org/en/node/17031

I've been asked to sign the Contributor License Agreement (CLA), in
order to possibly see it integrated within the project. As the
discussion about licensing was growing on the ticket associated to this
new patch (and it was becoming largely off-topic as compared to the
discussion about the features of the patch), it seems better to move it
to the list. So, I'm copying below a few bits for getting further comments.

While I'm waiting for the necessary clearance from my employee (which is
needed anyway, even to license the contribution as GPL only), I've just
asked for clarifications about what the CLA adds, additionally to the
traditional statement I've seen in other open-source projects, i.e.,
something as simple as:

   "I hereby grant permission to licence my contributions to MuseScore
under the Gnu General Public Licence."

The answer by Thomas pointed me back to the history of the CLA

http://musescore-developer.685061.n2.nabble.com/MuseScore-to-mobile-td6232012.html
   "So that's more than a year ago. Werner kept on releasing his code
under GPLv2 like he does for more than 15y of open source coding so
nothing changed. It's a fair deal between Werner and the code
contributors I think, so that MuseScore can move forward. Otherwise,
apps such as the Open Goldberg Variations would not have been made."

Reading a bit the history and motivations about this CLA business, I
came across a few points:
1) the CLA existence seems motivated from the need to put mscore on the
Apple Store;
2) for example, vlc had to be removed from the Apple Store due to it
being GPL;
3) however, vlc can still be installed on Apple devices, i.e., from Cydia;
4) developers may be very happy to voluntarily contribute to MuseScore
with GPL code, but not so happy to sign this CLA.

So, my two questions constituting at the same time concrete proposals
about the CLA are:

a) why don't you simply make MuseScore available through Cydia, for
example ?
b) why don't you handle a separate branch for distributing MuseScore
through the Apple Store ? so, you would have two branches, one including
all the GPL contributions; the other one, including all the features and
contributions whose developers signed the CLA as well.

Another comment by Marc Sabbatella was that

   "I'm sure Cydia is popular among a relatively small group of hackers,
but not having an app in the app store pretty much means 99% of the
world will never know about it or be able to use it. No way would I
favor such a path for MuseScore."

Interestingly, a wikipedia page about Cydia

   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cydia

reports: In August 2009, Freeman said "about 4 million, or 10 percent of
the 40 million iPhone and iPod Touch owners to date, have installed Cydia."
But, let's leave Cydia statistics out of the way for now.

As a further comment, I have to say that this whole history of why and
how the CLA was set-up for MuseScore, brings me to these additional
thoughts:
-) the original MuseScore licensing scheme, GPL, was granting the usual
"constrained freedom" in using software that has been characterizing
many many open-source projects for years;
-) is Apple managing to persuade open-source projects developers to drop
such a "constrained freedom" that has been characterizing such projects,
solely for the purpose of seeing the software available on one or two
devices ?
-) In an era in which we read continuously about fights between free
software and locked-down systems, I'd love to hear to another type of
story: free software (and particularly GPL-ed one) becoming so popular,
so nice, so needed by everyone, that the big Apple should perhaps think
seriously of changing its policy and allow everyone to install the
software they prefer, as it can be done on devices from other vendors.
This would be Davide who wins against Golia. The story of the MuseScore
CLA seems to me like the other way round.

Frankly speaking, I have the feeling that a kind of CLA like the one I'm
reading for MuseScore will in the long term choke the project to death
(as an open-source project, I mean -- it will keep existing as a
commercial tool, assuming the business starts flying as foreseen).

Any comment is of course welcome. Apologizes for the length of this
message, and for having likely re-opened an old thread.

Thanks, bye,

     Tommaso


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Re: About the MuseScore CLA...

ManfredHerr
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Re: About the MuseScore CLA...

Thomas Bonte
Administrator
Hi Manfred,

Everyone is welcome to fork MuseScore. All the code is GPLv2.
Here is the link to the code https://github.com/musescore/MuseScore

All the best.
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Re: About the MuseScore CLA...

Marc Sabatella
In reply to this post by ManfredHerr
On 8/16/2012 1:34 PM, ManfredHerr wrote:
> I don't think that you will get much feedback here. The core developers like
> the attempt to survive by waiting and hoping for the best. Even Mr.
> Sabbatella, who favored the discussion in this place, did not come up with a
> private opinion on the CLA. Oh, I forgot, he already signed it.  Perhaps he
> waits for a possibility to cancel his agreement?
??? I'm not sure what you're asking here, but let me be as clear as I
possibly can.  I understand the reasons this CLA was put in place, and I
fully support it since no one has ever come up with an alternative
solution to the basic problem that led to its introduction.  That was my
opinion when the issue first came up, and it remains my opinion now.  I
don't know what sort of "private opinion" you expect me to come up, nor
do I understand why you imagine I might have changed my mind about my
support.

Again, I fully support the CLA, I am glad I signed it (even though my
actual contributions thus far have been minimal), and I encourage anyone
who has interest in contributing to also sign.  And I frankly don't
understand why anyone would be reluctant given the facts of the
situation as I understand them: it's a choice is between a project than
can never release a product on the App Store versus one that can, and I
support the idea of releasing a product on the App Store.

But for the record, sure, I wish the facts of the situation were
different.  And if the situation were to some day change such that it
became possible for MuseScore to release a product on the App Store
without something like the current CLA, then sure, I'd be happy to no
longer need the current CLA and would be equally happy to sign something
else.

Marc


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Re: About the MuseScore CLA...

ManfredHerr
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Re: About the MuseScore CLA...

Tommaso Cucinotta
In reply to this post by Marc Sabatella
Hi,

perhaps after the summer break I might see more opinions on this topic,
they would be very well appreciated.

Marc, please, find my comments inline:

On 16/08/12 21:23, Marc Sabatella wrote:
> I understand the reasons this CLA was put in place, and I fully
> support it since no one has ever come up with an alternative solution
> to the basic problem that led to its introduction.

I tried to propose a couple of alternatives in my first e-mail to this
thread (copying them back):

a) why don't you simply make MuseScore available through Cydia, for
example ?
b) why don't you handle a separate branch for distributing MuseScore
through the Apple Store ? so, you would have two branches, one including
all the GPL contributions; the other one, including all the features and
contributions whose developers signed the CLA as well.

Solution a) would allow the project to be available on "jailbroken"
devices. Solution b) would allow for the creation of a non-GPL branch
that shows up on the App Store. Does anyone has any remarks on these
proposals ?

>  And I frankly don't understand why anyone would be reluctant given
> the facts of the situation as I understand them: it's a choice is
> between a project than can never release a product on the App Store
> versus one that can, and I support the idea of releasing a product on
> the App Store.

Either you're oversimplifying the situation, or I'm misunderstanding the
very core of the CLA first point, which is of course the one to debate
about: in open-source projects, we're all very glad to contribute
because we know that any further derivation of our contributions will
still be published as open-source. This guarantee is broken by the
MuseScore CLA. If Werner decides to improve the application and not
provide the source-code anymore, he can do that ("in any way"). If he
decides to give-up with development and pass all of his rights to
someone else, who in turn may prefer to close the project, he can do
that ("sublicense and distribute your Contribution and such derivative
works"). This freedom is only Werner's one, while instead anyone else
has to stick to the GPL rules.

So, as I'm interpreting the facts, the choice is about a project that
can not go to the App Stpre (until Apple decides to change policy) --
but that can already appear on Apple devices by other means -- and a
project that can show up on the App Store, but loosing its open-source
nature.

Again, any comment on the above is very appreciated, thanks!

     T.

> But for the record, sure, I wish the facts of the situation were
> different. And if the situation were to some day change such that it
> became possible for MuseScore to release a product on the App Store
> without something like the current CLA, then sure, I'd be happy to no
> longer need the current CLA and would be equally happy to sign
> something else. Marc
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Re: About the MuseScore CLA...

Tommaso Cucinotta
I see you raised good points, thanks. I'm commenting in-line below:

On 09/09/12 19:00, Marc Sabatella wrote:

> On 9/9/2012 2:39 AM, Tommaso Cucinotta wrote:
>> a) why don't you simply make MuseScore available through Cydia, for
>> example ?
>
> As I have said before, that *doesn't solve the problem* of making
> MuseScore available to the vast majority of iOS users.  It only solves
> the unrelated problem of making it available to a small community of
> hackers.  Whether they comprise as few as 1% of the toal iOS users (as
> I pessimistically guesstimated last time you suggested this) or as
> many as 10% (as the developer of Cydia optimistically estimated
> several years ago when the incentive for jailbreaking was greater and
> the obstacles fewer), is not really worth arguing.

I was just getting a different feeling,

   "Half of iDevices Are Jailbroken in China":
http://technode.com/2011/10/15/report-half-of-idevices-are-jailbroken-in-china/

   "950 thousands jailbreaks in 3 days":
http://blog.iphone-dev.org/post/16366982367/welcome-new-a5-jailbreakers

but who knows about trustworthiness of the sources ? And, as you say,
arguing about these numbers is probably not worth.

> Either way, it is clear that a Cydia-only app is an app the vast
> majority of iDevice owners users will never use and hence does not
> solve the problem.
>
>> b) why don't you handle a separate branch for distributing MuseScore
>> through the Apple Store ? so, you would have two branches, one
>> including all the GPL contributions; the other one, including all the
>> features and contributions whose developers signed the CLA as well.
>
> I am not seeing how you picture this working, technically or legally
> speaking.  I see only a host of very thorny questions to deal with. If
> there are to be two parallel branches from here forward, whose job is
> it to see that code developed that is intended to go on both branches
> (eg, the vast majority of the code, as far as I can see) actually
> *works* on both branches?

that's how I'd see it (I'm not saying it's trivial/seamless):
1) developers agreeing with GPL only would have to commit their changes
to the GPL-only branch
2) developers agreeing with GPL and CLA would be free to commit their
changes to both branches, and/or to merge patches provided by GPL+CLA
developers from the GPL-only branch to the CLA one (git simplifies those
things, doesn't it ?)
    2.a) the real burden is how to track contributions under GPL-only
from ones under the GPL+CLA ? One way may be to use special comments in
source-code
3) whoever may be in charge of checking that either one or both branches
work on whatever system: who is currently checking that after any commit
(or that each release) the thing is still stable on an iPhone x, or iPad
y, or Ubuntu Desktop 1a.0b, or RedHat whatever ? These things wouldn't
change.

> What about code developed by a non-CLA developer and placed on that
> branches and then adapted by others for uses on the CLA side?

then of course it's up to developers to follow the rules, as always: a
developer with the rights to commit may do things he/she shouldn't do,
but that's outside of the scope of the discussion. If you mean, how to
help developers to not mistakenly consider a GPL-only contribution as a
GPL+CLA one, then I can only think that grep and pre-commit hooks may be
your friends :-) !

> I'm not saying I am positive these (and other) problems are completely
> unsolvable, but a mere suggestion that there be two branches hardly
> constitutes a solution, and more than saying "why don't we try cold
> fusion" solves the world's energy problems.
>
>>>  And I frankly don't understand why anyone would be reluctant given
>>> the facts of the situation as I understand them: it's a choice is
>>> between a project than can never release a product on the App Store
>>> versus one that can, and I support the idea of releasing a product
>>> on the App Store.
>>
>> Either you're oversimplifying the situation, or I'm misunderstanding
>> the very core of the CLA first point
>
> I think it's the latter.  The "very core" of first point of the CLA is
> not to convert open source code into non-open source code. It is to
> give Werner permission to release an app - permission he would not
> have absent this clause, because he would not have sufficient rights.

"the ability to use the Contributions in any way" is not only the
ability to create binaries for the App Store. That's far more than that.

> Your code is developed and released under the GPL, and I don't see any
> language that changes that in any way.  Indeed, the word / phrase GPL
> doesn't even appear in the CLA, so I fail to see how the CLA could be
> construed as taking precedence over the GPL. All contributions
> released under the GPL remain under the GPL forever.
>
>> in open-source projects, we're all very glad to contribute because we
>> know that any further derivation of our contributions will still be
>> published as open-source.
>
> That's hardly the *reason* most people are glad to contribute.

Sure, each one has his/her own personal view of course. Still, that's
part of what the GPL ensures

   http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-3.0.txt: "you can redistribute it
and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License [...]
Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that [...] you
receive source code or can get it if you want it, [...]"

>
>> If he decides to give-up with development and pass all of his rights
>> to someone else, who in turn may prefer to close the project, he can
>> do that ("sublicense and distribute your Contribution and such
>> derivative works").
>
> How could Werner or anyone else possibly "close the project"? They
> might elect not to release their own apps any more, but the MuseScore
> source released under the GPL remains open, and anyone else -
> including you - can continue with business as usual.

Yes, sure, that's for all contributions released and published under the
terms of the GPL. However, contributions made by Werner do not
necessarily have to be published under the GPL, nor there's any
obligation to distribute the source-code of such contributions, along
with the binary distribution. Assume you see a cool super-feature on the
iPad version, but you can't see the same feature on the desktop app.
Then you could ask "can you please provide the source-code of this
feature ?" However, the CLA terms do not mandate the release of the
source-code. The open-source nature would be violated. I hope I was
clearer now.

Of course, as far as Werner keeps publishing his own contributions back
as GPL on the MuseScore repo, there's not such problem whatsoever. Only,
he's free to do otherwise, or let anyone else do otherwise, at any time
in future. At least, that's my understanding of the situation.

Any other opinion is of course greatly appreciated. I'm seeing so many
names in the list of people who signed the CLA, so these issues above
must be negligible compared to having the app available on an iDevice!

Thanks, bye.

     T.
>
> Marc
>


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