Technical Advisory Group Forum

Climsoft Contributor License Agreement

Steve Palmer
Climsoft Contributor License Agreement
by Steve Palmer - 3 December 2014

For any Open-Source project, it is important that the Contributors are clear about the rights they grant to the project. The aim is that the Project should be able to use their contributions (especially source code) with the minimum of restrictions. There is a danger that one group of contributors exert proprietary rights over a small but important part of the project, and then take control of the whole project, and use it for their own advantage.

The attached document is a draft Contributor License Agreement. This is based on the one developed for the SciTools project, but with some differences. In particular, the SciTools one quotes relevant UK law, but that is not appropriate for Climsoft, so I have tried to make it independant of any national legislation. I have borrowed some phrases from the Mozilla Foundation documents for this, especially on dispute resolution.

The SciTools document was drafted with the help of the Met Office legal team. I have not yet done so, but I intend to consult them and also the WMO legal team.

I do not yet have a clear definition of the "Climsoft Project" - can anyone help with some ideas and words?

We will also need to think about the mechanism for registering signature of the documents. We agreed  that the Lead Developers would have a responsibility to check that Contributions for inclusion in the core of Climsoft should come from Contributors who have signed the Contributor License Agreement.

Note that this CLA does not prevent commercial or other restricted add-ons which are not part of the core of Climsoft.

Ideas, thoughts, comments and suggestions for different text please!


Steve Palmer
Re: Climsoft Contributor License Agreement
by Steve Palmer - 14 January 2015

Hi Everyone,

I consulted the Met Office IPR specialist on the details of the Contributor Agreement. A new version of the draft Contributor Agreement is attached. Please read it and reply to this newsgroup with any questions and comments, or directly to me by email.

Major issue to be decided is the ultimate ownership of the Climsoft Project. This needs to be placed in a body which has a legal personality. The aim is to ensure that all stakeholders can use and contribute equally, and that no-one can steal the IPR for commercial advantage. This means having a real possibility to use legal enforcement.

I asked about putting the ownership in WMO, but this raises difficulties because WMO is governed by UN conventions, which would make it almost impossible for the Climsoft Project to take action against an individual or organisation which infringed on the open-source principles. For example, if a company claimed the IPR as its own, then WMO (as a UN organisation) could not start a case in a national court.

Probably the best alternative will be to lodge the ownership in ACMAD. I will investigate this directly with DG of ACMAD. I think that ACMAD is constituted as an international NGO under the laws of Niger, so it could take action in the courts of Niger.

If ACMAD is not suitable, then the Met Office could take on this role as open-source guardian. The advantage is a good legal section with experience in these areas (the Met Office already performs this role for the SciTools Project). The disadvantage is the appearance of reducing links with Africa.

Please will you let me have your thoughts about this. Is there another alternative which I should investigate?

Best regards


Picture of Albert Mhanda
Re: Climsoft Contributor License Agreement
by Albert Mhanda - 16 January 2015

Hi Steve,

Happy New Year !

With regard to the CLIMSOFT license agreement and ownership, my view is that this is a matter to be more appropriately discussed at Steering Committee level, though it's a good idea for the TAG to be aware of the discussion.



Steve Palmer
Re: Climsoft Contributor License Agreement
by Steve Palmer - 19 January 2015

Hi Albert and colleagues,

The decision of the Steering Group was that the Technical Advisory Group should consider and draft the governance issues and documents, and provide a recommendation to the next Steering Group. Then the Steering Group can consider the package. The plan is that the Steering Group should convene as a side meeting during the WMO RA-I meeting in Cap Verde in February.

If there are areas where the TAG see issues or problems, then we can include those as part of the package presented to the Steering Group, and the Steering Group then make decisions. Those decisions could be to accept the draft documents, to accept them with amendments, or to send them back for further consideration.

Please post any thoughts, comments or questions about the draft Contributor License Agreement in this thread.

I still need to draft a Privacy Policy, since it is referred to in the CLA. This should not be too complicated, it will basically say that the Project will not pass on personal information including email addresses for any purpose without individual permission, and will never pass on details for advertising or commercial gain.

Another element of the governance package is to provide guidance to Contributors on programming and documentation standards, but these are more technical issues, and do not need specific approval from the Steering Group.

Best regards


Picture of Jens Riede
Re: Climsoft Contributor License Agreement
by Jens Riede - 21 January 2015

Hi Steve and colleagues,

we agree with the draft particular with the change in the "Grant of Copyrigth Licence", where now ACMAD on behalf of the Climsoft Project is proposed. 

There is just one more comment on the last page:

"Your Git Hub profile will be publische on a pulic website...", currently no particular decision has yet been taken about the issue tracking system, even if SourceForge seems to be adequate to fulfil the requirements.

Maybe this point should be written more general?


Best regards