Dear James Macgill:
We are contacting you on behalf of the GeoTools project because we believe you have committed code to the project. We write to ask you to consider granting the copyright over your contribution to the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, commonly known as OSGeo, because we think this will strengthen the project and protect your interests.
Ten years after it started, GeoTools, through the Project Management Committee (PMC), has decided to become an official project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (http://www.osgeo.org). The OSGeo Foundation now includes several major free software projects such as the venerable GRASS program and the GDAL library. GeoTools hopes that collaborating with these other projects under the umbrella of the foundation will help make all the projects stronger.
As part of the process of joining the Foundation, GeoTools has been required to review and document the origin of the GeoTools source code. This review showed a mixed origin and a muddled copyright situation. Many of us had granted copyright to the PMC but unfortunately this turns out to have been meaningless since the organization has no legal validity and the assignment was informal. The PMC has decided to fix this confusion by placing the copyright over as much of the code as possible under the control of the OSGeo Foundation. The PMC has decided to require that future contributors will be required to grant copyright to the Foundation over any contributions. Also, many of the major contributors of the current code, including all of the organizations actively involved today, have decided to grant the Foundation the copyright over their work.
We hope this new structure will improve the project and better protect everyone involved: contributors, the foundation, and users. The formal granting of copyright will greatly clarify the legal status of the code. The new structure should allow the Foundation to represent the legal interests of the project in any legal dispute. Also, having the copyright rest with a single entity will allow us to re-license the code if desired or necessary. For example, Java will eventually be released under the GPL with the classpath exception, a license serves almost exactly the same purpose as the LGPL; it may therefore someday become desirable to move GeoTools towards such a license. Jointly these reasons have led us to contribute our copyright over our GeoTools contributions to OSGeo.
Would you be willing to join us in granting the copyright over your work on GeoTools to the OSGEo Foundation? This requires a little bit of work on your behalf but will, we hope, greatly strengthen the library. If you are willing to do so, please print out the attached copyright assignment document, fill in the information on the first page, sign the last page, and send the completed document to the foundation at the address on the fist page.
Thanks for your support of GeoTools,
Jody Garnett, GeoTools PMC