What About Kernel Contributions from Canopy Group?

Monday, September 29 2003 @ 07:43 PM EDT

Contributed by: PJ

A Groklaw reader raises an interesting question after reading the interview with Ralph Yarro in Sunday's Salt Lake Tribune. One part of the interview particularly drew a reaction, namely when Yarro said this:

"'I grew Canopy out of Linux, period,' he says. 'Many of the people in our companies are guys who can easily stand up and say we, too, are contributors.'"

Our reader responded that maybe that isn't the safest source of Linux contributions, given what we now know:

"I happen to think that Bruce Perens hit the nail on the head when he said: "'Canopy Group never understood how to be our partners,' he wrote. 'They've chosen to screw us one last time on the way out the door.'"

Here's our reader's opinion and then a question for Canopy Group's Yarro:

" . . . Remove the participation of the Canopy Group, and Linux moves forward. Continue with them, and we will continue to see litigation. . . . The only way out is to begin to demand they (Canopy Group companies) indemnify all users of Linux products from their . . . bosses (the Canopy Group). If they refuse, then their contributions must be removed. . . . I think the community needs to demand from YOU that you indemnify all users of Linux and Linux-based products, or you simply stop all of your Canopy Group contributions. One or the other, make up your mind. . . . Are you willing to indemnify users of Linux? If not, why not?"

So, what do you think? Is it dangerous to accept contributions from Canopy Group employees -- or even ex-employees -- without indemnification against litigation from Canopy Group and from whatever Canopy Group company the employee works for when he or she makes the contribution? Would Canopy Group and its companies be willing to offer such indemnification? As our reader pointedly asks, if not, why not? And deeper still, if not, what then?