We're committed to being good stewards of open source, and part of that commitment means we never stop re-evaluating how we do that. Saying "everyone can contribute" is about removing barriers to contribution. For some of our community, the Contributor License Agreement is a deterrent to contributing to GitLab, so we're changing to a Developer's Certificate of Origin instead.
Many large open source projects want to be masters of their own destiny. Having the freedom to run your own infrastructure based on open source software, together with the ability to modify and audit source code and not be dependent on a vendor, makes open source appealing. We want GitLab to be an option for everyone.
Why the change?
A Contributor License Agreement (CLA) is the industry standard for open source contributions to other projects, but it's unpopular with developers, who don't want to enter into legal terms and are put off by having to review a lengthy contract and potentially give up some of their rights. Contributors find the agreement unnecessarily restrictive, and it's deterring developers of open source projects from using GitLab. We were approached by Debian developers to consider dropping the CLA, and that's what we're doing.
As of today, we're rolling out changes so that contributors to the GitLab source code will only be required to make contributions and bug fixes under a project license (MIT for all repositories with the exception of Omnibus which would be licensed under Apache) and a Developer's Certificate of Origin (DCO). The DCO gives developers greater flexibility and portability for their contributions, and it's one of the reasons that Debian and GNOME plan to migrate their communities and projects to GitLab. We hope this change encourages more developers to contribute to GitLab. Thank you Debian, for prompting us to make this change.
"We applaud GitLab for dropping their CLA in favor of a more OSS-friendly approach. Open source communities are born from a sea of contributions that come together and transform into projects. This gesture affirmed GitLab's willingness to protect the individual, their creative process, and most importantly, keeps intellectual property in the hands of the creator." - Carlos Soriano, Board Director at GNOME
"We’re thrilled to see GitLab simplifying and encouraging community contributions by switching from a CLA to the DCO. We recognize that making a change of this nature is not easy and we applaud the time, patience and thoughtful consideration GitLab has shown here." - Chris Lamb, Debian Project Leader