"Project A" is released under LGPL ver 2.1 or, at user's discretion, above. This project is part of a bigger platform.

"Contributor A" submitted a highly-popular merge request to project A.

The maintainers refused to merge for 2 years.

Reasons: we are in code freeze, so not accepting merges for RC version and there is no dev version because we don't have time for dev branch. The code should be based on project B (one of the maintainers is also a maintainer of project B).

In this two years the contributor worked and submitted much more code, applauded by the community along the way (highly requested features).

At the 5000th "we are in code freeze", finally fed up, the contributor deleted his merge request and asked the maintainers to not use his code anymore in any way in project A.

The contributor was banned from the project, the community revolted, the maintainers uplift the ban, the Code of Conduct Committee jumped in from nowhere and reinstated the ban against contributor A and other members.

In the meantime "contributor B" open another merge request with contributor A's code, which he had saved in his PC, describing this new merge request as based on the work of "someone" who "withdrew permission which is not legally valid".

This new merge request based the code on "project B" (the other project for which one of the maintainers of "project A" work) and is fully supported by the maintainers, who, we are told, made "a significant amount of effort [...] into reviewing and testing the work and building on top of it".

Contributor's A posted messages asking them, again, not to use his code (or find an agreement). The maintainers are deleting his messages as well as messages from the community.

  1. Is all of this common / accepted practice by the open source community?

  2. If not, what can be done to make them stop using his code, or at least force them to recognize the efforts of the original contributor, who wrote a lot of code over 2 years, and now they are calling him just "someone"?

    Will informing the "project aggregator" work (the bigger project on which project A is part of)?

    Will informing the platform that hosts the source code work?

    Should I tip the press (phoronix, for instance) about all of that?

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with contributor A in any way. I don't know him, I never talked to him. I am just disgusted on what is happening.

Disclaimer: cross-posted on Law StackExchange for the legal ramifications of doing what they are doing.

EDIT: Project A has no Contributor License Agreement.

Contributor A submitted files with header:

This file is part of <PROJECT NAME>.


<PROJECT NAME> is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
it under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License as
published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2.1 of the
License, or (at your option) any later version.

<PROJECT NAME> is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but
WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU Lesser General Public
License along with <PROJECT NAME>; if not, see http://www.gnu.org/licenses/.



is being maintained, at least for now.


1 Answer 1


There doesn't seem to be a copyright violation here. The code was pretty clearly released under the LGPL, and open source licenses are (almost certainly) irrevocable; it doesn't matter that the patch was never accepted, the code was still released under the LGPL, so as long as the appropriate copyright notices are being maintained (and it seems like they are), Contributor A cannot stop his code being used.

Should Contributor A be given more prominent billing for their change? Maybe. That's a social issue, and social issues are hard, particularly when a relationship has broken down. While some jurisdictions do have "no disparagement" requirements, these are generally accepted to be a restriction against negative comments rather than a requirement to include a positive comment - e.g. if the project had added a line into the documentation saying "Contributor A is a big pile of poo", that would be an issue, but I've never heard of a work being forced to include something like "Contributor A is the saviour of this project" against their will due to that kind of legislation. (The 4 clause BSD license, which did include this kind of clause, is incompatible with the GPL family, and was generally also found by the community to be more hassle than it was worth).

Could you raise this issue with the project aggregator or the press? Sure. Will anyone care? That's not something we can tell you. The hosting site almost certainly won't care though as there's no copyright violation here.

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