Contributing code: the OXID eSales Contributor Agreement
Oxid contribution and contributor agreement FAQ
What should I do before I contribute code to OXID eShop?
We recommend that you take a few simple steps before you spent time extending the OXID eShop Community Edition:
Read this entire FAQ.
Review the feature set for the OXID eShop Enterprise Edition. We don’t accept features for the Community Edition that already exist in the Enterprise Edition.
Subscribe to the OXID Dev Slack Channel (oxid-dev.slack.com).
Discuss the feature you’d like to build on the list.
Discussions may go better if you have a small amount of working code that demonstrates the core of your idea.
I want to contribute to OXID eShop. Do I need to sign anything to get started?
You must sign the OXID eSales Contributor Agreement (OXID-CA) on the provided web service when working with our GitHub repositories.
When do I need to fill out a contributor agreement?
Before the first time that you contribute source code or other materials like documentation, design specs, bug fixes, or graphics to OXID eShop.
What if I’m contributing on behalf of my company?
In that case, an officer of your company (usually a VP or higher title) must sign the OXID-CA on behalf of the company, indicating his or her title.
The company can choose to list the specific individuals authorized to make contributions on the “Full Name” line, or may cover all employees with a blanket OXID-CA by not limiting contributors to an authorized list.
If necessary, the company may provide a list of authorized contributors in an attachment.
The executive signing the OXID-CA must be the first name on such an attached list, and this executive must sign the attachment as well.
I’ve previously assigned copyright in my prospective contribution to the Free Software Foundation or some other organization under their contribution policy. So I no longer have the ability to assign a joint copyright to OXID eSales AG. How can I contribute?
The Free Software Foundation will probably have granted you back an unlimited, sublicensable copyright license to your contribution, and other accepting organizations may also grant back such a license.
This kind of grant-back copyright license may allow you in turn to grant to OXID eSales AG all the rights needed under the OXID-CA.
Please be sure that you have such a grant-back copyright license if you have previously assigned copyright, and wish to contribute the same code or material to OXID eSales AG.
How do I terminate my OXID-CA?
You can stop your participation in a project at any time, but you cannot withdraw your assignments or grants with respect to prior contributions.
This protects the whole community, allowing and downstream users of the code base to rely on it.
OXID eSales AG cannot terminate its responsibilities under the OXID-CA either.
Benefits of a contributor agreement
Why do you have a Contributor Agreement?
The contributor agreement has two key purposes:
enabling multiple business models around OXID eShop
protecting the OXID eShop community
On the business front, the OXID-CA allows OXID eSales to maintain a dual-licensing business model and allows contributors to pursue similar models with their contributions.
On the community front, the OXID-CA allows OXID eSales AG to act as stewards of the OXID codebase and supporting materials, holding copyright on these resources on behalf of the OXID eShop community.
This consolidated copyright allows for better legal defense of the project and provides the possibility of relicensing the whole code base if this is needed in the future.
Without a consolidated copyright, every single contributor may need to be contacted and consensus reached in order to relicense the code base.
Most importantly from the contributors’ perspective, the OXID-CA allows the original donor of the code and other resources to maintain most of the rights to their contribution.
What does the OXID-CA do?
By executing an OXID-CA, you:
share your copyrights with OXID eSales AG
license any patents relevant to your contributions to OXID eSales AG
assert that your contributions are original works
assert that you are legally entitled to grant OXID eSales AG these rights
assert that your contributions do not violate anyone else’s rights
By accepting an OXID-CA, OXID eSales promises that your contributions will always be distributed under Free Culture or Free Software/Open Source licenses (in addition to any proprietary licenses that OXID eSales AG chooses to distribute your contributions under.)
The OXID-CA is based on Sun’s Contributor Agreement, which has been drafted in such a way as to be legally enforceable in multiple jurisdictions.
Are Contributor Agreements such as this one common?
Many other open-source communities and projects have contributor agreements, including the Free Software Foundation, the Apache Software Foundation, the Eclipse Foundation, and many more.
The contributor agreement and your rights
Do I lose any rights to my contribution under the OXID-CA?
While the OXID-CA only asks you to share your rights, this has the effect of removing your ability to exclusively license your copyright on your contributions.
Unlike some contribution agreements that require you to transfer copyrights to another organization, the OXID-CA does not take away your rights to your contributed intellectual property.
When you agree to the OXID-CA, you grant OXID eSales AG joint ownership in copyright, and a patent license for your contributions.
You retain all rights, title, and interest in your contributions and may use them for any purpose you wish.
Other than revoking the rights granted to OXID eSales AG, you still have the freedom to do whatever you want with your code.
The OXID-CA requires that I agree not to assert my “moral rights.” What are moral rights?
Moral rights are additional rights of the creators of copyrighted works recognized in some jurisdictions, and intended to protect the relationship between an artist and his or her work.
These rights remain in place even after ownership of the work is shared or transferred.
Moral rights typically only apply to visual or artistic works, and not to utilitarian works such as software.
They may prohibit the alteration or mutilation of a work, may protect the author’s right of attribution or anonymous publication, and in general govern the artistic integrity of a creative work.
It would be unusual for moral rights to apply to an open-source contribution, but in the event they do and you live in a jurisdiction that recognizes moral rights, when you sign the OXID-CA you agree not to assert them with respect to your contributions.
OXID eSales AG gains the benefits of the aggregated code base of an entire project. I only retain the benefit of my own contribution. Isn’t that unfair?
The rights you have in the aggregated code base are not determined by the OXID-CA. Rather, they’re a function of the project’s license. The OXID eShop Community Edition is licensed under version 3 of the GNU General Public License for its code, a strong and modern Free Software/Open Source license.
What if OXID eSales AG is acquired, or the rights to a particular code base are transferred? Do I have assurances that the party receiving these rights will continue to honor the OXID-CA?
The OXID-CA does not include any relicensing terms or obligations in the event of transfer of rights.
However, because contributors retain all their rights, there is no danger that contributions can be made exclusively proprietary.
Contributors retain the ability to make sure their contributed material is always freely available.
I’m hesitant to give OXID eSales AG unlimited ability to initiate enforcement against infringers. As joint copyright holder, do I have a say whether OXID eSales AG enforces the assigned copyright?
It depends on the circumstances.
When you agree to the OXID-CA, OXID eSales AG gains the right to enforce its copyrights in your contributions.
However, copyright ownership is shared, and not transferred: The contributor retains the freedom to make additional arrangements for their contributions as they see fit.
I don’t want my contribution to end up only in a proprietary product. Does OXID eSales AG promise to publish my contribution under an open-source license?
While your contributions may be included in OXID eSales AG proprietary products, your contributions will also be made available by OXID eSales AG under a Free Culture, Free Software or Open-Source license as well.
Can I be certain that if I contribute to the OXID project, I’ll retain the right to contribute to other projects under any license?
There is nothing in the OXID-CA that prohibits you from contributing the same works to other projects.
Remember, you are only asked to share rights, not relinquish them.
Contribution policies of other projects to which you might want to contribute may restrict your ability to contribute works you’ve contributed to a OXID eSales AG project, or to participate in some roles if you have participated in a OXID eSales AG project.
Please consult their policies for more information.
Discussing the Oxid-CA
I or my company would like to negotiate some changes to the OXID-CA. How do I do this?
OXID eSales AG has a policy prohibiting the negotiation of alternative OXID-CAs or amendments.
This protects everyone equally, with the goal that no contributor gets special treatment to the detriment of other participants.
How can I comment to OXID eSales AG about the OXID-CA?
We welcome community comments and feedback.
Please send your thoughts and feedback to us at or start a discussion on the forums under forum.oxid-esales.com or the OXID Dev Slack channel (oxid-dev.slack.com).
I see there is a Creative Commons license on the document. Why is that?
Sun, the original author of the contributor agreement and FAQ, has graciously chosen to share their hard work with others. For this, we thank them.
Document Provenance and Licensing
This document is based on the Sun Microsystem’s Contributor Agreement FAQ.
This document is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa) version 3.0 or any later version.