Workgroups FAQ

FAQ Regarding Contributions to Linux Foundation Workgroups

The Linux Foundation workgroups provide the “architecture of participation”* to enable community contributions to a variety of projects that are important to the Linux and open source communities.

When making contributions to a Linux Foundation Workgroup, or any open source project, please keep in mind the following:

What are my responsibilities as a contributor to a Linux Foundation Workgroup?

  • Basically everything we write is copyrighted, including textual comments, diagrams, slides, and code. The copyright in everything you write, and all other intellectual property that might arise in your work product, belongs to one of the following:
    • You;
    • Your employer; or
    • Someone else to whom you have assigned the rights.
  • In most if not all jurisdictions, your employer owns the copyright in everything you write within the scope of your employment unless you have signed an agreement that provides otherwise. In other words, the default rule is that an employee’s works of authorship created within the scope of their employment belong to the employer.
    • This can be changed by an express contract that provides otherwise.
    • There are variations across jurisdictions as to what might be included “within the scope of your employment” and other details.
  • The owner of the intellectual property has the right to permit or to prohibit the use of copyrighted works of authorship or other intellectual property.
  • If you are making contributions to a Linux Foundation Workgroup or other open source project, you need to know that the owner of the copyright or other intellectual property rights has given you permission to make the contributions available to the Workgroup under the license that applies to the contributions. If you are the owner, this is easy. If your employer or someone else is the owner, you need to take steps to get that permission.
  • Making contributions without permission is not only not helpful, it can undermine confidence in the open development model. The community is relying on you to preserve the integrity of the process by making sure that you own or have the permission of the owner of the intellectual property in the contribution prior to your submission of any materials to the Workgroup.

What license governs my contributions to a Linux Foundation Workgroup?

The Linux Foundation gives each Workgroup the ability to make their own licensing decisions based on what the group believes is best for their community. So you should look at the particular Workgroup website to find the licensing protocols that have been selected by that Workgroup.

But the Linux Foundation has provided certain default rules that will apply if the Workgroup has not chosen an alternative set of rules for contributions to that Workgroup. These are set forth in the User Submissions section of the Linux Foundation Terms of Use at

Users Submissions

Users are solely responsible for all materials, whether publicly posted or privately transmitted, that users upload, post, e-mail, transmit, or otherwise make available on our sites ("User Content").  Neither the Linux Foundation nor any of its Members shall be liable for any claims arising out of User Content.  You warrant that you have all rights needed to provide the User Content in accordance with these terms and all applicable laws or regulations.

Some Linux Foundation Workgroups or other projects that may be hosted by the Linux Foundation may have license terms or Contributor Agreements that are specific to the Workgroup or project and may require Users to sign an agreement (such as a Contributor Agreement) assigning and/or licensing rights in submissions made to such Workgroup or project. In all such cases, and to the extent there is a conflict, those license terms or agreements take precedence over these Terms of Use. With respect to any User Content not governed by other Workgroup or project specific terms or agreements, you agree that the following non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free worldwide licenses shall apply:

Code Submissions. User Content in the form of source or object code will be governed by the BSD License.

All Other Submissions. User Content that is not in the form of source or object code, including but not limited to white papers, dissertations, articles or other literary works, power point presentations, encyclopedias, anthologies, wikis, blogs, diagrams, drawings, sketches, photos or other images, audio content, video content and audiovisual materials, will be governed by the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. The Linux Foundation and the Members do not want to receive confidential information from you through this Web site. Please note that any information or material sent to The Linux Foundation or the Members will be deemed NOT to be confidential.

You are prohibited from posting or transmitting to or from this Web site any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, scandalous, inflammatory, pornographic, or profane material, or any other material that could give rise to any civil or criminal liability under the law.

What license governs my contributions to the MeeGo Workgroup?

Information on the Contribution Guidelines, Licensing Policy, Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service is available on the MeeGo website.

What license governs my contributions to The Yocto Project Workgroup?

Information regarding submissions is available on The Yocto Project workgroup website.

What license governs my contributions to the SPDX Linux Foundation Workgroup?

The SPDX Workgroup has chosen:

  • the Apache License as its default and preferred license for contributions in the form of object or source code; and
  • the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 for all other contributions.

Please see If you cannot make a contribution under these licenses, as applicable to your code or non-code contribution, please do not submit the contribution until alternative arrangements can be made with the Linux Foundation and the SPDX Workgroup.


*From Tim O”Reilly’s terrific 2004 article: