Eclipse Committer and Contributor Paperwork

The Eclipse Foundation has several agreements that we use to ensure that contributors understand the terms by which they make their contributions and, especially, to give them an opportunity to assert that they have the necessary rights to make those contributions under the terms of the corresponding project license.

The Eclipse Contributor Agreement (ECA) must be signed by anybody who wants to contribute to an Eclipse open source software or specification project. When a contributor has signed the ECA, a committer will be able to merge a contributor’s pull requests. Another way of looking at it is that a committer cannot merge a pull request when the contributor has not signed the ECA.

The Eclipse Individual Committer Agreement (ICA) is signed by folks who do not work for an Eclipse Foundation member company when they become a committer. For those developers who do work for an Eclipse Foundation member company, the company representative can complete an Eclipse Member Committer and Contributor Agreement (MCCA) which covers all of that member company’s employees.

Acquiring committer status starts with an election started by an Eclipse project team. Upon successful completion of that election, the nominee is prompted to provide the necessary paperwork. Completing that paperwork is the last step in the process, granting a developer the ability to commit (i.e., push their own content or merge pull requests from others). When a new committer signs the ICA (or their employer signs the MCCA) they also sign the ECA, and so gains the ability to contribute (but not directly push or merge) to any other Eclipse open source software or specification project.

When a developer is elected as a committer to another Eclipse project, they will not have to complete any additional paperwork. Committer status is specific to a particular Eclipse project; paperwork is not project specific.

Note that contributors retain ownership of their contributions; the ECA, for example, states in part (highlighting is mine):

This ECA, and the license(s) associated with the particular Eclipse Foundation projects You are contributing to, provides a license to Your Contributions to the Eclipse Foundation and downstream consumers, but You still own Your Contributions, and except for the licenses provided for in this ECA, You reserve all right, title and interest in Your Contributions. 

That is, the contributor owns their contributions, but grants a license to the Eclipse Foundation and downstream consumers to use them under the terms of the project license.

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