Hi, my name is Jacob Rockowitz and I'm the individual responsible for maintaining the Webform module for Drupal 8. Two weeks ago, I posted Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? documenting my journey and experience building and maintaining the the Webform module for Drupal 8. My goal was to document the current state of the Webform module, while simultaneously planning for the project’s future growth and sustainability. One of the steps toward accomplishing this is an idea I put together called "Sponsor a Feature".
"Sponsor a Feature" is a process encouraging organizations to hire Open-source software maintainers and contributors to build features and fix issues that directly impact a company's project. Two key concepts behind "Sponsor a Feature": all work would be open source and the sponsoring organization would pay for tangible and immediate results directly to the working individuals.
I feel that selling "Sponsor a Feature" to the Drupal community is going to be an uphill climb, especially because no one can technically sell Drupal. In other words, no one is used to paying directly for open source work. For now, I am going to tread lightly when talking about "Sponsor a Feature". For example, last week, I wrote about how Crowdfunding does not help grow Drupal's community to explore the different ways people are currently funding open source development. On Twitter, Adam Bergstein (@n3rdstein) and I began a conversation about how an organization might pay a project maintain/developer.
Putting together an agreement that pays a developer to deliver tangible results is going to be one of the key challenges to "Sponsor a Feature". We need to make it easy for a sponsoring organizations and maintainers to sign a legally-binding agreement attached to a SOW (Statement of Work). Protecting both parties and the open source nature of the work is essential.
"Signing the agreement" is a major milestone and challenge for projects. Kennesaw State University recently sponsored adding three new features to the Webform module. Signing the agreement required some back-and-forth, despite the fact that the agreement was pretty much a standard "Work-for-Hire" with a Open-source addendum. This case got me wondering - would it be possible to collaboratively create a reusable agreement/template for "Sponsor a Feature" that could be open sourced, more specifically, assign a Creative Commons license?
Would a reusable and free-to-use agreement template make it easier for organizations to sponsor Open-source development?
There can't be a one-size fits all agreement template that works for every project, however key clauses that respect Drupal's GPL, a sponsor's confidentiality, and a developer's liability could be defined. Keep in mind, if successful, a Creative Commons "Sponsor a Feature" agreement would become a living document - one that would be subject to continual improvements and tweaks.
A core agreement could streamline the process of "Sponsor a Feature" for the Webform module and other projects for organizations and maintainers. Providing a "Sponsor a Feature" agreement template, says we mean business - a good thing for a developers like me, who want to write and maintain Open source software and to be compensated for it. Another key concept for "Sponsor a Feature" is going to be "transparency", which is part of Open-source and the Drupal community. It is also precisely why I am writing this blog post.
My next step involves reaching out to lawyers within the Open-source community - to explore the possibilities and realities. For any lawyers, inspired by this blog post, please note names and practices can and should attributed to this agreement, similar to how sponsoring organizations are listed on a Drupal project's page.
For now, I wanted to reach out and share this idea with the Drupal community. I welcome your feedback in the comments below. My blog posts and questions about "Sponsor a Feature" will continue with the hope that a future blog post will result, including a Creative Commons "Sponsor a Feature" agreement template for the Drupal community. And from there? We’ll work openly to collaborate and improve - the same way the Drupal community has always done.
It’s gotten us this far, which I think is fair to say (and know many who would agree), it’s nothing to sniff at.
I look forward to hearing from you.