• June 19, 2021

Exclusive: GCC Will No Longer Require Copyrights Be Assigned to the FSF

 Exclusive: GCC Will No Longer Require Copyrights Be Assigned to the FSF


Version 9.4 of the GNU Compiler Collection “encompasses more than 190 bug fixes for GCC 9.3, which has been available since March 2020,” reports DevClass.

But they add that in addition, “Developers who want to contribute to the GNU Compiler Collection but don’t feel like signing over copyright to the Free Software Foundation can get busy committing now.”

GCC Steering Committee member David Edelsohn informed contributors via the mailing list that the committee “decided to relax the requirement to assign copyright for all changes” to the FSF. Speaking for the committee, he wrote that the GCC project “will now accept contributions with or without an FSF copyright assignment”, a practice thought of as consistent with that “of many other major Free Software projects, such as the Linux kernel”. GCC “will continue to be developed, distributed and licensed” under the GPLv3, so nothing should change for those adding to the project under the old assumptions.

There are those who have had troubles with that arrangement before, with Apple often cited as a popular example. They are now free to contribute utilising the Developer Certificate of Origin instead of agreeing to an FSF Copyright Assignment.

A reason was not given, though the last sentence of the statement, which affirms the principles of Free Software, might give a clue. In March 2021, the committee commented on the removal of Richard Stallman from the project’s steering committee website with a similar declaration… [T]hey felt like an association with Stallman was not serving the best interests of the GCC developers and user community, given that the “GCC Steering Committee is committed to providing a friendly, safe and welcoming environment for all.”
The Register notes that Red Hat senior principal engineer Mark Wielaard asked why there was no public discussion before making the change.



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