[opensource-dev] Questions about Second Life Viewer Contribution Agreement

Boroondas Gupte sllists at boroon.dasgupta.ch
Fri Feb 26 07:42:52 PST 2010

Hi all

Robin said on #opensl she thinks I should become a committer. However I
don't feel able to sign the Contribution Agreement, as some questions I
have about it still aren't answered. I have sent them to
contributions at lindenlab.com back in October, and still haven't received
a reply. I talked to Merov back then and he asked legal several times
about it, but apparently they were "busy".

Here's my original mail to contributions at lindenlab.com:
> Dear Sir or Madam
> at
> http://jira.secondlife.com/browse/SNOW-278?page=com.atlassian.jira.plugin.system.issuetabpanels:comment-tabpanel&focusedCommentId=140775#action_140775
> I was asked to file a contribution agreement. The agreement itself
> says, in part:
>> If you have questions about these terms, please contact us at
>> contributions at lindenlab.com.
> As I actually do have some questions, that's what I'm doing herewith.
> I'll quote the relevant parts of the agreement. Any emphasis was added
> by me.
>> 3.       You hereby grant to Linden Lab, and to any party who
>> receives Your Contribution, a perpetual,
>> irrevocable, non-exclusive, worldwide, no-charge, royalty-free,
>> license under any patents owned by or licensable by
>> You at any time without payment to third parties, to make, have made,
>> use, sell, offer to sell, import and otherwise
>> transfer Your Contribution *in whole or in part, alone or in
>> combination with or included in any product, work or
>> materials* arising out of the SL Viewer Project, and to sublicense
>> the foregoing rights to third parties through
>> multiple tiers of sublicensees or other licensing mechanisms at
>> Linden Lab's option.
> I understand that this demands, that I grant licences to my present
> and future patents on any technology that my contributions introduce.
> I.e. when the Second Life Viewer (hereafter "the Viewer") prior to my
> contribution didn't have the patented technology, but the Viewer (as
> it was at the time the respective contribution was made) combined with
> my contribution has it, then I must grant the licences.
> What's unclear to me is if I have to also grant patent licences in the
> following cases:
>     * The Viewer (at the time of contribution) combined with my
>       contribution isn't affected by my patents, then someone else
>       (Linden Lab or a third party) adds (on top of my contribution)
>       something that is affected by my patents.
>     * The Viewer combined with my contribution isn't affected by my
>       patents, but someone else takes my contribution and combines it
>       with another (e.g. their own) work such that this combination is
>       affected by my patents. (Obviously, this can only be the case
>       for contributions that implement different technologies when
>       combined with different works, which -- while possible in theory
>       -- might be rather hypothetical in practice. Though one never
>       knows, so I want to make sure.)
>     * The Viewer combined with my contribution isn't affected by my
>       patents, but someone takes my contribution and combines it with
>       another (e.g. their own) work which was affected by my patents
>       already without my contribution.
>> 5.        You represent and warrant that You are legally entitled to
>> grant the above assignment and licenses. [...] You represent and
>> warrant *that the Contribution is Your original work of authorship*,
>> and to the best
>> of Your knowledge, does not violate any other party's copyrights,
>> trademarks, patents or other intellectual property
>> rights, and that no other person claims, or has the right to claim,
>> any right in any invention or patent related to the
>> Contribution.
> What about contributions based on other people's contributions to the
> Second Life Viewer project, when those contributions haven't (yet)
> been accepted and integrated and so aren't (yet) available under GPL
> (except the original contributor said so)? (E.g. my 
> http://jira.secondlife.com/secure/attachment/28350/VWR-5370_rediffed_for_SNOW.patch
> is heavily based on Latif Khalifa's
> http://jira.secondlife.com/secure/attachment/20869/v2_llfloaterchatterbox.h.patch
> which is still in QA)
> I'm looking forward to your answers to these concerns, so I can
> hopefully sign and submit the agreement.
> <my real life name> (inworld: Boroondas Gupte)

later I followed up with this:
> Dear Sir or Madam
> As I haven't heard back from you for two weeks about my questions (cited
> below), I'd like to make clear that I'm not seeking legal advice, which
> I know you can only give to employees. I'd just like to know what you
> meant (applied to the cases I listed in my questions) when you wrote the
> agreement.
> If you feel you cannot answer (some of) the questions, please tell me
> about that. If it was because of unclearly formulated questions or
> cases, I might be able to clarify. If the answers just aren't known,
> that'd be useful to know, too.
> Yours faithfully,
> <my real life name> (inworld: Boroondas Gupte)
> <full quote of the mail above>

I'm not really looking for IANAL answers from this list, but I thought
it might be good to make my questions public, as others might have the
same or similar ones. I'd still appreciate any authoritative answers.

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