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2 Contributed Modules in Perl Core
3 A Social Contract about Artistic Control
4
5What follows is a statement about artistic control, defined as the ability
6of authors of packages to guide the future of their code and maintain
7control over their work. It is a recognition that authors should have
8control over their work, and that it is a responsibility of the rest of
9the Perl community to ensure that they retain this control. It is an
10attempt to document the standards to which we, as Perl developers, intend
11to hold ourselves. It is an attempt to write down rough guidelines about
12the respect we owe each other as Perl developers.
13
14This statement is not a legal contract. This statement is not a legal
15document in any way, shape, or form. Perl is distributed under the GNU
16Public License and under the Artistic License; those are the precise legal
17terms. This statement isn't about the law or licenses. It's about
18community, mutual respect, trust, and good-faith cooperation.
19
20We recognize that the Perl core, defined as the software distributed with
21the heart of Perl itself, is a joint project on the part of all of us.
aaa2bbb1 22From time to time, a script, module, or set of modules (hereafter referred
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23to simply as a "module") will prove so widely useful and/or so integral to
24the correct functioning of Perl itself that it should be distributed with
25Perl core. This should never be done without the author's explicit
26consent, and a clear recognition on all parts that this means the module
27is being distributed under the same terms as Perl itself. A module author
28should realize that inclusion of a module into the Perl core will
29necessarily mean some loss of control over it, since changes may
30occasionally have to be made on short notice or for consistency with the
31rest of Perl.
32
33Once a module has been included in the Perl core, however, everyone
34involved in maintaining Perl should be aware that the module is still the
35property of the original author unless the original author explicitly
36gives up their ownership of it. In particular:
37
38 1) The version of the module in the core should still be considered the
39 work of the original author. All patches, bug reports, and so forth
40 should be fed back to them. Their development directions should be
41 respected whenever possible.
42
43 2) Patches may be applied by the pumpkin holder without the explicit
44 cooperation of the module author if and only if they are very minor,
45 time-critical in some fashion (such as urgent security fixes), or if
46 the module author cannot be reached. Those patches must still be
47 given back to the author when possible, and if the author decides on
48 an alternate fix in their version, that fix should be strongly
49 preferred unless there is a serious problem with it. Any changes not
50 endorsed by the author should be marked as such, and the contributor
51 of the change acknowledged.
52
53 3) The version of the module distributed with Perl should, whenever
54 possible, be the latest version of the module as distributed by the
55 author (the latest non-beta version in the case of public Perl
56 releases), although the pumpkin holder may hold off on upgrading the
57 version of the module distributed with Perl to the latest version
58 until the latest version has had sufficient testing.
59
60In other words, the author of a module should be considered to have final
61say on modifications to their module whenever possible (bearing in mind
62that it's expected that everyone involved will work together and arrive at
63reasonable compromises when there are disagreements).
64
65As a last resort, however:
66
67 4) If the author's vision of the future of their module is sufficiently
68 different from the vision of the pumpkin holder and perl5-porters as a
69 whole so as to cause serious problems for Perl, the pumpkin holder may
70 choose to formally fork the version of the module in the core from the
71 one maintained by the author. This should not be done lightly and
72 should *always* if at all possible be done only after direct input
73 from Larry. If this is done, it must then be made explicit in the
74 module as distributed with Perl core that it is a forked version and
75 that while it is based on the original author's work, it is no longer
76 maintained by them. This must be noted in both the documentation and
77 in the comments in the source of the module.
78
79Again, this should be a last resort only. Ideally, this should never
80happen, and every possible effort at cooperation and compromise should be
81made before doing this. If it does prove necessary to fork a module for
82the overall health of Perl, proper credit must be given to the original
83author in perpetuity and the decision should be constantly re-evaluated to
84see if a remerging of the two branches is possible down the road.
85
86In all dealings with contributed modules, everyone maintaining Perl should
87keep in mind that the code belongs to the original author, that they may
88not be on perl5-porters at any given time, and that a patch is not
89official unless it has been integrated into the author's copy of the
90module. To aid with this, and with points #1, #2, and #3 above, contact
91information for the authors of all contributed modules should be kept with
92the Perl distribution.
93
94Finally, the Perl community as a whole recognizes that respect for
95ownership of code, respect for artistic control, proper credit, and active
96effort to prevent unintentional code skew or communication gaps is vital
97to the health of the community and Perl itself. Members of a community
98should not normally have to resort to rules and laws to deal with each
99other, and this document, although it contains rules so as to be clear, is
100about an attitude and general approach. The first step in any dispute
101should be open communication, respect for opposing views, and an attempt
102at a compromise. In nearly every circumstance nothing more will be
103necessary, and certainly no more drastic measure should be used until
104every avenue of communication and discussion has failed.
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105
106--
107Version 1.2. By Russ Allbery (rra@stanford.edu) and the perl5-porters.
108