It has run space probes and ocean liners, it's in every recent Apple Macintosh and runs and most of the Internet including the site you are reading now. NetBSD and its decendents FreeBSD, OpenBSD and Linux. The NetBSD Foundation (TNF) required those people involved in its creation (committers -- coders with more than usual control over the project) to sign a legal contract by June 2006. As far as such documents go, it is not too draconian, but I felt it was the antithesis of what motivated me to be involved with the foundation (building something out of the love of creation and intellectual competition). It lacked spirit. I refused to sign, effectively resigning. I think these projects are "complete"; still a vital force behind global cognition, but like the telephone or the transistor, most creative effort is now going into making them faster or asking what colour they should be:
I understand the real politik behind this, namely, quelling fears of companies that productize NetBSD and perhaps personal liability fears of the TNF board members, but I think this is the wrong way to go about it.
We create the state through our actions and language. TNF through its contract document recreates the malfeasant corporate state within our programmer world. TNF should protect and nurture its committers, not ask them to fall on their swords at the first sign of danger. Limited liability as an organizational concept arose inorder to encourage investment. If TNF has any legal use, it is to sheild committers from TNF's actions, not the other way about.
IF the legal threat in the US is real and not a nightmare of the fearful, then TNF copyright and cvs should be moved to an offshore jurisdiction, of which there are many available that do not have US style patent or copyright law. The US node can be used to promote activities in the US and its Limited Liability can protect the board members in the role of those activities.
The contract as well as being an instrument of the state is written in the demeaning language of the corporate state. It should have been written in the language of our programmer world. Even in the world of the state it is not clear that the contract is valid, given that committers seem to give away rights and services to TNF but do not receive compensation from TNF in doing so.
I haven't committed for several years, so my refusal may mean little, but I encourage others to keep NetBSD a place of people united in creation, a place of collective defense for our programmer world, where bullshit is directed out, not in.