I have a puzzling question:

Somebody contributed to a AGPL licensed project (he is not the owner). Now this code could also be applied to a different project licensed under LGPL. Could the author of this code part (he is listed in the license header of the AGPL code as (c) ) give permission to use that code in the other LGPL project? The contributor thinks that he can not because he signed some contributor agreement with the AGPL project but I wanted to ask this here and maybe someone has some insight...

Update: I think I found the CLA, so here is the interesting part:

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  • 4
    I think this depends entirely on the specific terms of the CLA, but generally CLAs just grant broad, non-exclusive rights to a project. It's fine for multiple recipients to have non-exclusive rights to some piece of code; that doesn't diminish the author's rights under copyright (unless, of course, the terms of the CLA are unusual and do that somehow).
    – apsillers
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 20:07

2 Answers 2


What this author has signed in not a Contributor License Agreement, giving the project additional (non-exclusive) rights in addition to what they get under the AGPL, but a transfer of copyrights (CTA, Copyright Transfer Agreement).

This means that the AGPL project owns the copyrights on the contribution and the author has just as many rights as anyone else who obtained a copy1.

1: This is not entirely true, depending on the view on moral rights in the author's jurisdiction, but that does not make a difference when it comes to re-using the code in a different project.

  • This sounds to me that (re) using the code is indeed not possible. (Which I already suspected after I read the CLA or better called TOC ;-)
    – Lonzak
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 13:02
  • @Lonzak, re-use of the code would be possible if you get the new copyright owner to agree to use that particular contribution under a different license. Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 13:05
  • Yes of course (but before they'll agree to that the world will end ;-)
    – Lonzak
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 13:19

The author has the copyright, so he can relicense from the license point of view.

But the CLA is not a license, but a contract. And you need to read the contract to know what it allows and what not.

One possiblity is, that the contributor signed that he will not license the code other than to the company the CLA is for or AGPL for the general public.

Another possiblity is, that he just signed that the project can use the code without following the AGPL and nothing more. I know some projects that accept code from people that do not belong to the project either under a CLA or under a permissive license like MIT, which allows everyone to use it without following the AGPL, when no other AGPL code is involved.

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