Brussels / 4 & 5 February 2017


Make your Corporate CLA easy to use, please!

If you run an open source project, and you'd like to get contributions from employees at medium-to-large companies, the simplest way to provide a smooth contribution process is to not use a Contributor License Agreement. If your project requires one, though, there are steps you can take to ease the burden this causes on contributions from company employees, and this talk will cover a number of issues encountered during 4+ years of managing contributions from a 20K+ employee global company.

While there is a growing movement in the open source community away from Contributor License Agreements, many important projects still require them. Some of these projects are focused on 'enterprise' usage, so as a result employees of major companies want to contribute. However, the mechanisms used to execute these CLAs vary widely (it seems that every project builds its own CLA system), and none of them take into account the various legal and logistical requirements of a major corporation who wants to contribute. This talk will present a series of problems encountered as a contributing company, and propose ways that CLA-requiring projects can resolve them.

These problems include (but are no means limited to): requiring the agreement to be executed on a social media platform; providing no ability for the authorized signer and the manager of the authorized employee list to be different people; requiring FAXed copies of agreements; failing to provide the ability to authorize employees to contribute to specific codebases within a large project; and more.


Photo of Kevin P. Fleming Kevin P. Fleming