According to this wikipedia page:

As of August 2011, Canonical is requesting contributions be licenced under a Harmony Contribution Licence Agreement, rather than the copyright being assigned to Canonical.

This would appear to put contributors in a better position, being able to maintain the copyright of their contributions. Are there still any drawbacks? Does the contributor lose any rights with the Harmony agreement that they would have kept when contributing to a project without a Contributor License Agreement?

1 Answer 1


This is indeed a better position to be in.

Copyright assignment means you lose all your rights. You no longer own the work in the eyes of the law and have no legal force over it; Canonical instead owns it and can do as they wish with it.

The Harmony CLA states (§ 2.1.a):

You retain ownership of the Copyright and Patent Claims in your Contributions and have the same rights to use or license the Contributions which You would have had without entering into the Agreement.

For legalese, that's pretty clear: you're still the owner, you can still do as you like with it.

It also (in §4 and §5) protects you: whereas copyright transfer would leave you open to legal claims against you if your work goes wrong, sections 4 and 5 are the 'Disclaimer' (i.e. you provide your work with no warranties) and 'Consequential Damage Waiver' (where Canonical agree not to sue you if you got something wrong).

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