Understanding Project Harmony

I’ve been highly critical1 of corporate copyright assignment policies, especially those that effect me personally. Canonical, one of those I’ve complained about, has been working to try and standardise the wording and formation of the contracts that you have to sign in order to assign copyright over.

This is called Project Harmony and it kicked off today an alpha release, which we can get involved with and try and fix and bug report.

To be fair to the process (and in hope that it can fix Canonical’s current utterly ghastly wording) I’ve put together a diagram so you can understand what the options are in the new alpha contract:

What is interesting is that while diagramming2 , I could see the difference between the FSF’s3 assignment agreement (2.1 > iv) and Canonical current agreement (2.2 > v) and they do show up in stark contrast.

What are your thoughts on this project? Will it improve the situation with contributing to Canonical’s Unity, Mozilla’s Firefox or even the FSF’s Gnu project?

1I’ve likened it to corporate theft, misappropriation of volunteer work and powerful coercion from the project maintainers project’s coherence. Similar to an optional serfdom.
2This isn’t a legal diagram, just an illustration to aid comprehension. I am not a lawyer, please check with your legal council on these matters.
3Interestingly I’ve just signed two FSF copyright assignment forms, hopefully I’ll be able to blog about what I’ve been up to with them soon.

5 thoughts on “Understanding Project Harmony

  1. Martin,
    What specifically in Canonical’s current assignment language do you feel the Harmony draft clears up? If Canonical chucked their current assignment requirement and chose instead the Harmony language for the proprietary licensing path would you be more inclined to sign such an agreement and contribute to Unity?


  2. jef – No, but at least there would be the opportunity for Canonical to not be complete bastards about copyright assignment. It’d be easier if they were just semi bastards on the issue.

    Besides, it offers us the greatest gift of all: hope.

  3. It’s interesting, but I agree with you regarding copyright assignment.

    I don’t think Harmony is interesting for the projects but for the companies willing to “use” the communities. Even when there are true good intentions for using copyright assignment, it has been proven to be harmful for the projects for different reasons.

    So I think Harmony it’s just an attempt to facelift and idea that didn’t have too much good PR lately.

  4. I think you have a couple of typos in the diagram.
    transfered -> transferred
    Propritary -> Proprietary

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