Today my Akademy talk about KDE’s Fiduciary License Agreement goes live. The title in the schedule is FLA FLA FLA FLA FLA’ing Alive which I thought was a marginally clever play on something by the Bee Gees but .. marginally clever. So in my talk I’ll just use the title KDE’s Fiduciary License Agreement (you trust us with your life, right?) which still suffers from marginal cleverness, but is a little better.

This article is a 2-minute summary of the talk.

  • Your copyright is important
  • Your Open Source license is important
  • When you contribute to KDE you contribute to a community
  • Your copyright lasts a long time
  • There are cases where it might be necessary to contact the author of a piece of code, and this might be long past when you care about that code
  • You can change the holder of the copyright through a variety of legal means
  • A fiduciary license agreement (FLA) changes the holder through copyright assignment to a trusted other party
  • The KDE FLA assigns copyright to KDE e.V. and gives you a hugely broad license back
  • Effectively you move the long-term license holder to KDE e.V. while keeping the flexibility of treating your code as your code (with all the economic exploitation possibilities that entails)

Signing the KDE FLA is entirely optional but if you do, you

  • make the KDE community stronger in the long run
  • take a potential worry about the copyright and license on your code and move it elsewhere

What KDE e.V. can do with the covered code is bounded by the FLA itself (PDF) and the Fiduciary Relicensing Policy (PDF). This ensures that Open Source remains Open Source.

The FLA expressly is not a Contributor License Agreement or an impalanced assignment: it is optional, and ensures that you have full rights to use, distribute, modify and relicense copies of the covered code.

Other times I’ve written about the FLA: SPDX and the KDE FLA (2020), prescription of the FLA (2009), GonFLAr el ballon (2008). You can tell I have a history of marginally clever titles – but also that the FLA has been around for over 12 years, slowly building up the amount of covered code and the strength and standing of the fiduciary – whom you trust with your code.