In an effort to bring more standardization to agreements among developers and licensees, Maracke is working with a team to develop standardized contributor agreements. These are agreements between an open source project and its contributors. The agreements set out what the project can do with contributions to attributes such as code, documentation and artwork.
Contributor agreements should seek to avoid legal problems regarding individual contributions, such as disputes over origin and ownership, and do so without the need for a lawyer, Maracke said. This can be done by transferring the copyright to the project owner or by giving an irrevocable license to allow the project owner to use the contribution.
The new agreements are still a work in progress though. In September, the team released a draft agreement that can be discussed by interested parties.
Standardization could also happen in another way, suggested Nicholson. Companies could, for example, provide an internal executive summary laying out the licenses can be used by various departments, she said. People working in a department could either pick an authorized license, discuss the use of certain licenses with a manager or simply avoid licenses that are not on the authorized list for that department.
Doing this could lessen the burden on whoever has to deal with licensing issues, Nicholson said.
Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org