In InfoWorld this week, I’ve reprised my views about contributor agreements. The trigger for this was seeing Oracle erroneously change the license for the MySQL man pages from GPL to something nasty. Once they were told, they fixed the error (which had been public for two months), but the fact their build system even has an option for proprietary relicensing that can be accidentally enabled is cause for thought.
Why can they do that? Contributor agreements have given them ownership of all the copyrights, including for things they didn’t make. With those copyrights comes the power to change the license without asking anyone (even by accident). In an age of OpenStack, Eclipse and Apache, why should we still have important open source projects under the control of unaccountable entities?