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From Rob Weir <robw...@apache.org>
Subject An example of the license problems we're going to face
Date Tue, 30 Aug 2011 15:34:29 GMT
As far as I know, all Apache projects have source releases.  Some also
have binary releases.  I expect we will have both.

OOo, since it was LGPL, could assume a copyleft orientation for
source, documentation, templates, binaries, etc.  Everything was
copyleft, meaning if someone modified these materials, any
distributions of it must be accompanied by the changes, and have the
same copyleft license.

With Apache, our releases are under the Apache 2.0 license. This is
not a copyleft license.  Apache code can be modified and republished
without making the changes also available under an open source
license.

The Oracle SGA puts the Apache 2.0 license on the files from OOo that
Sun/Oracle had rights to under the various forms of their contributor
agreements.  This predominantly covered source code.  But it did not
cover project documentation.  Documentation was generally under the
copyleft Public Documentation License (PDL) or CC BY-A.

This is going to cause us problems.  A specific example.  The main
build instructions for OpenOffice.org are in a PDL-licensed  Building
Guide document [1].  This means that our own source code releases are
unable to be accompanied by instructions on how to build the product.
This is quite odd, compared to most other projects, say SVN, which
include build instructions with their source releases [2].

Of course, we can have a README file in our source releases that
points to the PDL Building Guide.  That may seem to solve the problem,
but it really doesn't.  We've now placed copyleft restrictions on
downstream consumers that might want to modify the source code, and as
part of those modifications also modify the build instructions.  We've
now placed additional constraints on them, beyond Apache 2.0,  for how
they can use the release.

This is not an isolated occurrence.  If I'm reading this [3]
correctly, there are thousands of pieces of documentation that are
under PDL.  This is not all "community" or "wiki" stuff that we can
just pass off as something that loosely affiliated folks do in an
uncoordinated fashion, without joining the project, under a license of
their preference  This is the core blood of the project, how to use
the product, how to build the product, how to test the product, how to
customize the product, etc.

As I've said before, we can't change the past.  But we can prevent
repeating past mistakes.  We need to ensure that in the future that
the core project documentation is developed and maintained under the
ALv2 license.  A good question to ask is this:  If a downstream
consumer wanted to use our source release, to build and distribute a
customized version of AOOo, could they do that successfully?  Or would
they be severely constrained and find that our releases are actually
missing essential documentation files without which AOOo cannot be
used?

-Rob


[1] http://ooo-wiki.apache.org/wiki/Documentation/Building_Guide
[2] http://svn.apache.org/repos/asf/subversion/trunk/INSTALL
[3] http://ooo-wiki.apache.org/wiki/Category:PDL_License

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