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August 17, 2015

Conservancy and Debian announce Copyright Aggregation Project

New Services Agreement Implemented between Conservancy and Debian

This past weekend, in his keynote at DebConf (the Debian Project's annual conference in Heidelberg, Germany), Software Freedom Conservancy's Distinguished Technologist and President, Bradley M. Kuhn, announced Conservancy's Debian Copyright Aggregation Project. This new project, formed at the request of Debian developers, gives Debian contributors various new options to ensure the defense of software freedom. Specifically, Debian contributors may chose to either assign their copyrights to Conservancy for permanent stewardship, or sign Conservancy's license enforcement agreement, which delegates to Conservancy authority to enforce Free Software licenses (such as the GNU General Public License). Several Debian contributors have already signed both forms of agreement.

Former Debian Project Leader (DPL), Stefano Zacchiroli enthusiastically welcomed the program, saying: I urged Conservancy to work with Debian to create this program. Holding copyright on Free Software code is a privilege, but also a huge responsibility. Debian Developers have asked me for years a way to make sure some charity they can trust looked after their hard work and ensured Free Software licenses were upheld. Conservancy is the best partner I can imagine for this job. I've signed up myself for the program!

On behalf of the Debian community, Conservancy can now safeguard the long term interests of Debian and its commitment to software freedom. In connection with the Aggregation Project, Conservancy will provide license consulting, advice, and compliance services to Debian in coordination with the DPL. The framework for all these services to the Debian community was implemented by Lucas Nussbaum during his term as DPL. The agreement established the DPL as the primary contact point for the services agreement.

Neil McGovern, the current DPL, stated: With this new program, Debian has a fantastic opportunity to build an ongoing collaboration with Conservancy to enforce Debian contributors' rights in accordance with the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG). I welcome the experience and sage advice from Conservancy on licensing and policy matters, and applaud their various other efforts on software freedom.

Conservancy can now accept assignment agreements or enforcement agreements for any Debian contributors who choose to join the Aggregation Project. Currently, Debian developers interested in this program can contact <debian-services@sfconservancy.org>. The DPL and Conservancy are working together to create a self-service system for filing the paperwork.

Kuhn's keynote from DebConf is available below in video, and he summarized his thoughts in a blog post on Conservancy's website.

This announcement was crossposted with Debian.

Finally, Karen and Bradley also discussed the Debian Copyright Aggregation Project on an episode of Free as in Freedom.

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