Institutionalising contributor agreements
The goal of this project was to build a sustainable framework to manage legal risks in collaborative development initiatives.
Catharina is a qualified lawyer who took on the issue of contributor agreements for free and open source software (FOSS) projects through the Harmony project in March 2012. She built a sustainable framework to manage legal risks in collaborative development initiatives, including developing the next generation of standardised contributor agreements.
We supported Catharina because without clear legal boundaries, great projects can falter due to technicalities. She had a real itch to make this important change - a necessary addition to aid the open ecosystem work properly.
Where fellows typically bring their own project into the fellowship, Catharina was in the unusual position of taking on an existing project - Harmony - with various and varying role players. She played a nuanced role, sensitive to both industry and community dynamics.
Catharina is a strong legal mind committed to serving the open community as it evolves. Over her three-year fellowship she made significant progress, making the project her own by re-imagining and expanding the scope of her work to include much broader legal services around intellectual property rights, risk and collaboration in FOSS projects. She continued to explore these themes under ContributorAgreements.com as she moved on from the fellowship programme.
Catharina has returned to academia, as associate professor at the Graduate School for Media and Governance, Shonan Fujisawa Campus, at Keio University. Her contemporary research interests look at copyright law and policy, the interplay between law and new media, and the role of universities in the development of Internet policies.
“Catharina took over the Harmony project. She is an exceptional legal mind offers an incredible base of legal opinions, and has a lot of skin in the open game.
It was clear from her fellowship that Catharina had interests way beyond contributor agreements and she took Harmony into a much broader territory. As a servant of the open community, she went on to look at the wider ecosystem of open and licenses, and the technical aspects of how open works in a world of closed.”