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From "David E. Jones" <jone...@ofbiz.org>
Subject Proposal for OFBiz to Join the ASF
Date Tue, 10 Jan 2006 07:08:40 GMT

A few weeks ago David Welton sent out a message to feel out interest  
in the possibility of getting the process started and work toward  
OFBiz becoming an Apache project. Soon after Yoav Shapira also voiced  
his thought that OFBiz and the ASF might make a good fit. Both David  
and Yoav are members of the ASF and have some good familiarity with  
OFBiz, so I was very interested in their comments.

At first I wasn't too sure about the idea and waited a bit for other  
opinions to come in. A few months ago we started looking at moving  
from the MIT license to the Apache 2.0 license and from that I  
started to see some of the legal issues and difficulties with making  
this sort of change, and based on this when the ASF idea came up I  
wasn't sure the benefits would outweigh the effort required to do the  
license change and handle the intellectual property issues, plus the  
possible overhead of being part of a larger foundation that we  
haven't had to deal with as an independent project. Even using  
resources of open source sites like SourceForge.net and java.net we  
have run into enough issues that we are now running all of our tools  
on our own servers.

I started The Open For Business Project (OFBiz.org) in May of 2001  
and at about the same time Andy Zeneski started a similar project and  
we decide to join forces and continue operating under the OFBiz name.  
Over the years dozens of people have come and gone and contributed in  
ways that have kept the project going strong to this day in spite of  
having no corporate support. The project has continued to date by  
contributors in dozens of service provider and end-user organizations  
participating in the project. While there are quite a few fairly  
consistent contributors the core group with varying levels of commit  
access consists of 6 people, all of whom have been involved in the  
OFBiz/ASF discussions, and are copied on this email, and more  
information about us is included in the attached proposal document.

Quite a few potential and certain benefits of joining ASF came out of  
the discussions we've had over the last few weeks, but the most  
important one for me (and the one that shifted my thoughts strongly  
toward doing this) is the intellectual property issue. For a long  
time we had the copyright listed in the name of "The Open For  
Business Project", but no such legal entity existed. I put together a  
partnership consisting of Andy and I a couple of years ago to at  
least hold the title to avoid potential intellectual property claims  
or invalidity. This isn't a good long-term solution and we know it.  
As the project grows the licensing and copyright ownership/grant  
issues are making it difficult for certain organizations to use  
OFBiz, and for certain individuals and organizations to contribute to  
it. Running the project as part of a known and trusted organization  
like the Apache Software Foundation and licensed using the Apache 2.0  
license would resolve a lot of these concerns and remove this  
increasingly important barrier to growth for the project.

I spent a few hours reading through the general overview documents  
for the ASF and the documents about the incubation process. Based on  
this I agree that the principles and goals that the ASF promotes go  
along very well with what we have been trying to do with OFBiz. We  
want to ensure an open and commercially friendly license to make the  
software usable by the widest audience possible, and believe that  
especially for business application level software where  
customization is often required and often involves proprietary  
processes and such this is especially important.

So, I guess it really comes down to this: we don't want OFBiz to be  
one of the "open source" projects that is owned and run by a central  
company and developed mostly by employees of that company and  
licensed under the GPL license just because it is a real open source  
license, but for this type of software it is restrictive enough that  
sales of commercial licenses are very likely. An interesting model  
for sure, but we don't believe this is in-line with the spirit or  
practical benefits of the open source model and a more community  
oriented and commercially friendly approach will win out.

The problem is doing this without the trust that the strong central  
organization offers. Joining the ASF helps to solve this problem for  
OFBiz and will hopefully enable a unique and highly usable and used  
alternative in a part of the software world that is classically  
chaotic, overpriced, and in many cases fails to deliver solutions as  
needed or desired.

I hope that sets the stage adequately and not too verbosely for this  
proposal. The initial proposal (attached to this email) was written  
by David Welton and then revised based on feedback from Yoav and the  
various core members of the OFBiz team. I have received confirmation  
from all major contributors that they are okay with this move, and  
some discussion about it has gone out to the project mailing lists  
with pretty much unanimous approval among those who responded.

We are all looking forward to your comments and desire to express in  
advance appreciation for all that you have done and are doing for the  
open source world and the software world in general through your  
efforts in the Apache Software Foundation.

-David E. Jones (jonesde@ofbiz.org)



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