Our world is a strange place. I started the GWT Widget Library with the intention of giving my code away for free. But I have found that it isn't quite that simple. You can't just give it away, you must license it.
I often find myself driving down the road, and see a pile of used baby toys with a sign that says "FREE". I now look at it a little differently. What I see is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Perhaps the person trying to get rid of the old toys (contributor) should have left a license next to the pile of junk, requiring a signature before a wanting individual (recipient) takes it away.
The cryptic title of this entry was meant to express a similar message as the wanted ads in the paper. In this case it means "Confused Java Developer seeks Friendly OpenSource Lawyer".
With the GWT Widget Library I have tried to protect myself by affixing the Apache 2.0 License, which allows for openness, and protects me from various litigation. The next problem is managing contributions to the library. I started looking at Individual Contributor License Agreements (ICLA), but from what I see, there aren't any agreements that I can just grab and reuse. Each agreement is specific in who is receiving the contribution, and in all cases that I have seen it is either a corporation or a foundation.
Do I need to start a foundation to allow for me to use ICLAs? Perhaps not, but then there is the issue with who's name appears as the copyright holder. Some contributors thus far have wanted there name to be there as a sort of recognition. I can understand this, after all, who want to look at a piece of source code that they contributed and at the top of the file see "Copyright Robert Hanson". I'll be honest, I don't want my name there. I feel that my name there takes away from the recognition that the original author deserves. But if I don't hold the copyright, how does that limit me down the road as other developers fix bugs and extend the contributed code.
It is a mess for sure. What can't "FREE" be free?
I have no solutions, only rants. I may decide to add a donation button to the GWT Widget Library SourceForge project so that I can pay for some legal advice, or maybe I will try to do some research myself (probably a bad idea).
So, with that said, I am open to suggestions... and donations... and free legal advice (with attribution of course).