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FLA Two

Monday, 20 June 2022 | Adriaan de Groot


The KDE Community has used – and gently encouraged – the Fiduciary License Agreement (FLA) which was created by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) some 15 years ago. The FLA is a kind of copyright assignment that preserves the Free Software underpinnings of the software, ensures the contributor can (re)use the work and that the fiduciary can handle licensing questions around the contributed code. A CLA without the corporate-style downsides.

Using the FLA has always been an option in the KDE world. Some people choose to sign it to ensure long-term stability. Others don’t, and that’s fine. Here is a 2009-era post from me about the FLA and the licensing situation closer to when we introduced it. The next time I mentioned the FLA was in 2020, so it just kept plugging along all that time.

That’s not to say the document – license, agreement, whathaveyou – was without problems. The language was dated. Some legal precepts have changed. Supporting companies that want to assign their code to KDE e.V. was complicated. This wasn’t unique to the FLA document that KDE e.V. used, so the Contributor Agreements organization was created to steward a next generation of FLA’s.

KDE e.V. has just added the FLA 2.0 as an option for KDE contributors. The FLA 2.0 allows more freedom to KDE e.V. and isn’t tied to the structure of the software as-it-is-right-now. This was an issue with the 1.3 series of agreements: changing our source code repository from SVN to git (a transition that happened in 2011 or thereabouts) meant changing the legal agreement describing which source was covered. The 1.3 series was a pain in the butt that way.

But now we have 2.0 – and have kept 1.3.5 around – which means that each contributor can:

  • not sign anything, and just contribute under the existing Free Software licenses. This is the default, and the least-paperwork way, to contribute to KDE.
  • sign the FLA 2.0, assigning those assignable rights in the work to KDE e.V. If you’re going to do paperwork, this is the recommended way to do it.
  • sign the FLA 1.3.5 and associated FRP. This is the older form and older language, and it is still available as an option.

There will be a signing party – FLA and GPG keys – at Akademy 2022, I’m sure.