FSF to begin accepting GPG signatures for copyright assignments from Italy
The Free Software Foundation is striving to provide more and simpler ways for hackers to contribute to the GNU Project. For projects that are assigned to the FSF (such as GNU Emacs or GCC), dealing with the paperwork for assigning contributions can sometimes be a bottleneck in the process. We are always working on ways to make assignment itself simpler. We have accepted GPG-signed documents from U.S. contributors for some time now. Our legal counsel at the Software Freedom Law Center recently gave us the all clear to begin accepting GPG and electronic signatures from contributors in Italy. We would also like to thank Carlo Piana for providing local counsel on this issue as well.
As with contributors in the U.S., Italian hackers will be able to sign copyright assignments using GNU Privacy Guard, a complete and free implementation of PGP. One of its main features is the ability to generate a unique digital signature tied to both a specific individual and a particular document. Many hackers already use GPG to verify and secure code, emails and documents, so it's the most natural tool for us to be using.
In addition, we've been given the all clear to start accepting smart card digital signatures from Italian contributors. We are still looking into the infrastructure for doing so, to ensure that it does not require any proprietary software. If you've used smart card signatures in a fully free environment and would be willing to offer some insight we would love to hear from you at email@example.com. We are hopeful that we'll have the system up and running soon, and that contributors in other countries will be able to make use of electronic signatures in the future.
The list of countries where we can currently accept digitally signed documents (scanned, GPG-signed, or electronic signature) will be kept as part of the GNU Maintainer's manual.
Wondering why the FSF goes through all this trouble with copyright assignment at all? Prof. Eben Moglen explains why.