GitLab Changes its Contributor Licensing to Better Serve Open-Source Projects

Self-hosted Git repository management tool GitLab today announced that it is abandoning its Contributor Licensing Agreement (CLA) and adopting a Developer Certificate of Origin (DCO) and license.

According to the company, which claims 67% market share in the self-hosted Git market, "the DCO gives developers greater flexibility and portability for their contributions."

While CLAs have been an industry standard for open-source projects, many developers don't like CLAs because they require them to review and accept legal terms, often giving up some of their rights in the process.

Sid Sijbrandij, GitLab's CEO, explained, "Many large open source projects want to be masters of their own destiny, but overly restrictive licensing can be a barrier to attracting talented contributors and driving innovation in the project. With a DCO and license, developers no longer have to surrender their work and enter into legal terms. They will now have the freedom to contribute to open-source code and the flexibility to leverage their contributions as they need."

As a result of its change, the high-profile Debian and GNOME projects are planning to migrate to GitLab. According to Carlos Soriano, one of GNOME's board directors, GitLab's new approach is "more OSS-friendly" and that could mean other migrations will follow. Indeed, GitLab says that its change "has already attracted the attention of large open source projects" demonstrating that putting the interests of developers first can be a good business strategy.

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