The GNU Project is built by volunteers from all around the globe. For many packages, sharing your code involves assigning copyright on your changes to the Free Software Foundation (FSF). This enables us to enforce the terms of the license on packages like the GNU Compiler Collection and the GNU C Library to ensure that the software always remains free. In 2010, we wrote that contributors from 66 different countries had assigned their copyright to the FSF. At that time, and for about 30 years prior, each assignment required sending paper documents via the international post, not always an easy or inexpensive process.
In 2012, the FSF announced that it would begin accepting scanned documents for assignments of copyright for contributors residing in the United States. We then set about a long process of trying to expand the countries where we could accept scanned documents. While a few countries have been added over the years, the ultimate goal has always been to smooth the assignment process for all contributors.
Today we have achieved that goal. With the advice of counsel, we can begin accepting scanned copies of assignments from all contributors, regardless of where they reside. With a small update to our assignment contract, we can finally make it possible for all contributors to avoid having to send their forms via the post.
This doesn't end our process. There are lots of ways to sign documents these days, including using GNU Privacy Gaurd or other forms of digital signature. We will keep working to smooth that process and make more options available. While there is still more work to do to make the process as simple as possible, this is one big step that will help contributors from all around the world to share their code.
The FSF currently accepts assignments for those projects that are officially dubbed GNU. Please check our Free Software Directory to see whether the package is GNU. If the package is GNU then please email the maintainer of the program communicating your desire to assign copyright. The maintainer will then evaluate the appropriate type of assignment for your case.
The maintainer will provide you with a questionnaire which ensures your eligibility to assign copyright in the work. After completing the questionnaire and emailing it to the FSF, the Assignment Administrator will review your answers to the questions. If everything is in order you will receive an email with your assignment form and instructions on how to complete the assignment process. Alternatively, the Assignment Administrator will contact you if any matter needs further clarification.
After you return the assignment to the FSF it is reviewed once more and submitted for approval to the Executive Director. Once it has been approved you will receive an email indicating such, and a copy of the assignment wil be returned to you for your personal records.
To learn how to make a program a GNU program, please look here and to start the process please email GNU Evaluation