Project Harmony looks to improve contribution agreements |

Project Harmony looks to improve contribution agreements

Harmonizing contribution agreements
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On 16 June Project Harmony had its first official meeting in Boston, and we're planning another in London on 1st July at Canonical's offices.  Its initial goal is to avoid proliferation in contribution agreements across FOSS software projects where those organisations chose to work with contribution agreements.

A Canonical instigated project, being led by their General Counsel, Project Harmony is open to all interested parties to join. It presently involves a group of industry interested parties, from companies, projects and those with personal interests in FOSS.

Project Harmony is intended to assist organisations which use contribution agreements by providing standardised variable templates with clear and concise explanations; to come to a common understanding on these; and to recognise the relative maturity of FOSS by dealing with its internationalisation. Our goal is to make the process of contributing to FOSS projects easier for developers regardless of who their employers are. We believe that standardised contribution agreements should serve this goal.  

We may look to establish this forum for these contribution agreements into an organisation which will have a long term role in administering this area.

To achieve our initial goals we will be working together to create plan to create:

Contribution Agreements

A suite of standard language which works across international borders and which provides standardised wording for FOSS contributor agreements, minimising the need for legal review. We understand and accept that there are varying positions and decisions in different projects based on commercial positions, community preferences and the wording needed to meet this.


In addition it is recognised that there would be an advantage to put in place "inter-company" agreements for employee contributions to other company or projects' software. The intention of such documents is to remove the need for employee signature of project contributor agreements and to equalise the playing field between organisations.

The group will work through a private WIKI and are working towards delivering their output at the FSFE's European Legal Network conference in April 2011. All interested parties are welcome to join and contribute in person or on-line to Project Harmony. For information contact


About the author

Amanda Brock - General Counsel of Canonical the commercial sponsor of the Open Source Operating System, Ubuntu. Founding Editor, International FOSS Law Review.