In the CLA of the Linux Foundation, under section 2 there was the following:

... You hereby grant to the Foundation and to recipients of software distributed by the Foundation a perpetua l, worldwide, non-exclusive, no-charge, royalty-free, irrevocable copyright license to reproduce, prepare derivative works of, publicly display publicly perform, sublicense, and distribute Your Contributions and such derivative works.

I understand that for any contribution I have made since signing, I won't be able to demand copyrights, nor do I wish to.

However, can I revoke my signature of the CLA in a future time, such that any contributions (or anything that might be perceived as one) I make after revocation are not subject to the terms of the agreement?

For example, let say I'm signing today, contribute something tomorrow, a day after revoke my signature, and a day after that publish some code in a forum. Can the Foundation claim the the code published in the forum is also under the original CLA, free of any copyright, because it was "irrevocable"?

  • The next few words after the ellipsis are important, as it's about to say what you're granting them an irrevocable licence to. Any chance you could quote a bit more, or better yet, link to the CLA?
    – MadHatter
    Oct 24, 2019 at 9:23
  • I edited my question to include the entire rest of the section
    – Tom Klino
    Oct 24, 2019 at 9:56
  • As it states ...distribute Your Contributions and such derivative works it would sound like it is a once-off agreement to all of your contributions, not just this contribution. If you no longer wanted to contribute under this agreement you would have to no longer contribute.
    – sambler
    Oct 25, 2019 at 3:49

1 Answer 1


The CLA says it applies only to capital-C "Contributions" which is a term that would be defined elsewhere in the document.

As an example (not necessarily correspondent to your specific CLA), the Apache 2.0 License includes the definition

"Contribution" shall mean any work of authorship... that is intentionally submitted to Licensor for inclusion in the Work by the copyright owner...

Assuming your CLA has a remotely similar definition, then code that is never submitted for inclusion in the project would not constitute a Contribution and would not be covered by the license grant in the CLA.

Presumably you could also rescind your agreement to the CLA (insofar as you may terminate any legal agreement), at the cost of not having future contributions accepted. Contributions made while your agreement was still in force would remain bound by the irrevocable grant you agreed to, but future contributions would not be (and neither would the project accept them, as a matter of policy).

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