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Conservancy's Copyleft Compliance Projects

Free and open source software is everywhere and in everything; yet our software freedom is constantly eroded. With the help of its volunteers, member projects, and staff, Conservancy stands up for users' software freedom via its copyleft compliance work.

Conservancy engages in copyleft compliance work in two different ways: by acting directly on behalf of Conservancy's Member Projects who request Free and Open Source License compliance efforts, and for specific, targeted member projects for communities of developers.

Conservancy's Copyleft Compliance Projects are run in a collaborative manner with the project developers. All copyright holders involved have the opportunity to give input and guidance on Conservancy's strategy in dealing with compliance issues. Thus, all Conservancy's compliance matter have full support of relevant copyright holders.

In addition to taking feedback internally from those who participate as part of the coalitions described below, Conservancy also welcomes feedback and discussion with the general public about our copyleft compliance efforts. This discussion happens on Conservancy's principles-discuss mailing list, which is named for Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement which Conservancy follows in all our copyleft compliance.

Compliance Project For Our Fiscally Sponsored Projects

Historically, Conservancy was well-known for its ongoing license compliance efforts on behalf of its BusyBox member project. Today, Conservancy does semi-regular compliance work for its BusyBox, Evergreen, Git, Inkscape, Mercurial, Samba, Sugar Labs, QEMU and Wine member projects. If you are a copyright holder in any member project of Conservancy, please contact the project's leadership committtee, via <PROJECTNAME@sfconservancy.org> for more information on getting involved in compliance efforts in that project.

GPL Compliance Project For Linux Developers

In May 2012, Conservancy launched the GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers, which handles compliance and enforcement activities on behalf of more than a dozen Linux copyright holders.

The GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers is comprised of copyright holders in the kernel, Linux, who have contributed to Linux under its license, the GPLv2. These copyright holders have formally asked Conservancy to engage in compliance efforts for their copyrights in the Linux kernel. In addition, some developers have directly assigned their copyrights on Linux to Conservancy, so Conservancy also enforces the GPL on Linux via its own copyrights in Linux.

Linux copyright holders who wish to assign copyright to or sign an enforcement agreement with Conservancy should contact <linux-services@sfconservancy.org>.

The Debian Copyright Aggregation Project

In August 2015, Conservancy announced the Debian Copyright Aggregation Project. This project allows Debian contributors to assign copyrights to Conservancy, or sign enforcement agreements allowing Conservancy to enforce Free and Open Source (FOSS) licenses on their behalf. Many Debian contributors have chosen each of these options already, and more continue to join.

Debian contributors who wish to assign copyright to or sign an enforcement agreement with Conservancy should contact <debian-services@sfconservancy.org>.

Conservancy's Commitment to Copyleft License Compliance

Conservancy is dedicated to encouraging all users of software to comply with Free Software licenses. Toward this goal, in its compliance efforts, Conservancy helps distributors of Free Software in a friendly spirit of cooperation and participation. In this spirit, Conservancy has co-published, with the Free Software Foundation (FSF), the principles that both organizations follow in their compliance efforts. Also in collaboration with the FSF, Conservancy also sponsors the Copyleft and the GNU General Public License:A Comprehensive Tutorial and Guide, which formally launched in fall 2014. The Guide includes tutorial materials about copyleft and compliance with copyleft licenses, including A Practical Guide to GPL Compliance. The materials on copyleft.org have been developed and improved since 2002, and are themselves copylefted, and developed collaboratively in public.

However, the Guide is admittedly a large document, so for those who are interested in a short summary of describing how Conservancy handles GPL enforcement and compliance work, this blog post outlining the compliance process is likely the best source.

Reporting GPL Violations To Us

If you are aware of a license violation or compliance issue regarding Debian, Linux, or any Conservancy member project (— in particular BusyBox, Evergreen, Inkscape, Mercurial, Samba, Sugar Labs, or Wine), please contact us by email at <compliance@sfconservancy.org>.

If you think you've found a GPL violation, we encourage you to read this personal blog post by our Distinguished Technologist, Bradley M. Kuhn, about good practices in discovering and reporting GPL violations. (We'd also like someone to convert the text of that blog post into a patch for The Compliance Guide on copyleft.org; submit it via k.copyleft.org.)

Donate to Support This Work

Finally, Conservancy welcomes in support of our GPL Compliance Projects, and we encourage you to become a an official Supporter of Software Freedom Conservancy.

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