Skip to main content

CLA’s: Best Thing Since Sliced Bread or Tool of the Devil… A Panel Discussion

Moderated by:
Danese Cooper (PayPal)
Brian Behlendorf (Mithril Capital Management LLC), Richard Fontana (Red Hat), Bradley Kuhn (Software Freedom Conservancy)
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 4 ratings)

Open Source licenses are mostly grounded in US Copyright Law, which requires 51% representation to claim standing in any copyright-related action (including defense against infringement claims as well as re-licensing). Yet, they are also a barrier to participation, since you often must have one in place before you make a substantial (or in some cases any) contribution. Some projects (Mozilla) never aggregated copyrights. Others (Apache) have had them since incorporation and see them as key to their Mission. What do YOU think?

Photo of Danese Cooper

Danese Cooper


Danese Cooper has an 22-year history in the software industry and has long been an advocate for transparent development methodologies. Ms. Cooper joined PayPal in February 2014, and has held many leadership roles within the computer science sector. She has managed teams at Symantec and Apple Inc. and for six years served as Chief Open Source Evangelist for Sun Microsystems before leaving to serve as Senior Director for Open Source Strategies at Intel. She advised on open source policy to the R community while at REvolution Computing (now Revolution Analytics), and she served from February 2010 to July 2011 as Chief Technical Officer for the Wikimedia Foundation. She currently runs a successful consultancy to companies wishing to pursue open source strategies, which has served the SETI Foundation, Harris Corporation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation among other clients. She is a director on the boards of the Drupal Association, and the Open Source Hardware Association, a board advisor for Mozilla and Ushahidi, and has served since 2005 as a Member of the Apache Software Foundation. She was a board member for 10 years at Open Source Initiative.

Photo of Brian Behlendorf

Brian Behlendorf

Mithril Capital Management LLC

Brian Behlendorf is Managing Director at Mithril Capital Management in San Francisco. His career has been a mix of technology start-up, public policy, and non-profit tech leadership. Brian serves on the Boards of the Mozilla Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Benetech, three organizations using technology to fight for civil liberties, open technologies, and social impact in the digital domain. Prior to Mithril, Brian was Chief Technology Officer at the World Economic Forum. He also served for two years at the White House as advisor to the Open Government project within the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and then later as advisor to Health and Human Services on open software approaches to health information sharing. Before that he has founded two tech companies (CollabNet and Organic) and several Open Source software projects (Apache, Subversion, and more).

Photo of Richard Fontana

Richard Fontana

Red Hat

Richard Fontana is a lawyer who has specialized in open source legal issues for over ten years. He is Red Hat’s lead open source lawyer and supports Red Hat’s engineering and R&D teams. Richard is also a board director of the Open Source Initiative. He has been an active and influential public speaker on matters at the intersection of open source, law and policy.

Photo of Bradley Kuhn

Bradley Kuhn

Software Freedom Conservancy

Bradley M. Kuhn is the president and distinguished technologist at Software Freedom Conservancy, on the board of directors of the Free Software Foundation, and editor-in-chief of Kuhn began his work in the software freedom movement as a volunteer in 1992, when he became an early adopter of the GNU/Linux operating system, and began contributing to various free software projects. He worked during the 1990s as a system administrator and software developer for various companies, and taught AP Computer Science at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati. Kuhn’s non-profit career began in 2000, when he was hired by the FSF. As FSF’s executive director from 2001-2005, Kuhn led FSF’s GPL enforcement, launched its Associate Member program, and invented the Affero GPL. Kuhn was appointed president of Software Freedom Conservancy in April 2006, was Conservancy’s primary volunteer from 2006–2010, and has been a full-time staffer since early 2011. Kuhn holds a summa cum laude B.S. in computer science from Loyola University in Maryland, and an M.S. in computer science from the University of Cincinnati. Kuhn’s Master’s thesis (an excerpt from which won the Damien Conway Award for Best Technical Paper at this conference in 2000) discussed methods for dynamic interoperability of free software programming languages. Kuhn received an O’Reilly Open Source Award in 2012, in recognition for his lifelong policy work on copyleft licensing. Kuhn has a blog, is on and co-hosts the audcast, Free as in Freedom.