Developers working on KDE, a collection of Open Source desktop applications, are to assign their copyrights to the German KDE foundation.
This was announced at the KDE annual conference in Sint-Katelijne-Waver, Belgium, on Monday 11 August, during the General Assembly of the KDE foundation (KDE ev).
The foundation had been preparing its Fiduciary Licence Agreement (FLA) over the past year and a half, adopting a similar legal document from the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE).
According to a FSFE statement, published last Friday, the FLA is a copyright assignment that allows Open Source projects to assign their copyright to a single organisation or a person. This should help the projects to ensure their legal maintainability. This includes preserving the ability to re-license and certainty to have the right to enforce licences in court.
The KDE FLA was distributed during the KDE conference for developers to sign. The document was later withdrawn to make some more changes. According to a comments by the foundation's vice president, Adriaan de Groot, posted on his blog this Monday, the final FLA will not mention the 'artistic licence'. "We have realised that accepting that particular licence is a bad idea." References to that licence are being deleted in the final FLA, he explains. "So that is an extra restriction on what KDE foundation can do with FLA-granted code."
In the FSFE statement, De Groot says the FLA is the preferred way to assign copyright to the KDE foundation. "We recognise that assignment is an option that individuals may wish to exercise. It is in no way pushed upon KDE contributors. There are also other avenues of copyright assignment available, but we believe this is the easiest way to get it done, with little fuss."
FSFE coordinator Shane Coughlan adds: "KDE's adoption makes a great example of how the FLA can provide legal coherency in the mid-to-long term."
The KDE foundation was founded in Germany, since a number of people who started KDE were German residents, explains Sebastian Kügler, spokesperson for the foundation. "When founding an organisation in times when the Internet was not really available nor widely used, setting it up in Germany was the easiest way to go."
KDE is one of the more popular collections of Open Source desktop applications. It is usually one of the default desktop choices in most GNU/Linux desktop distributions.