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From Robert Burrell Donkin <>
Subject Re: Copyright Notices, Source Headers and Licenses (By Example)
Date Fri, 14 Oct 2011 13:28:08 GMT
On Thu, Oct 13, 2011 at 9:54 PM, Rob Weir <> wrote:
> On Thu, Oct 13, 2011 at 4:12 PM, Robert Burrell Donkin
> <> wrote:


>> It is vital that only the owner (or their agent) alters a copyright
>> notice unless specific written permission been granted.
> And since the SGA does not specifically say that, I'm understanding
> that the SGA alone is insufficient.

Whether or not the software grant is sufficient would take a court to decide...

But as a matter of Apache policy, asking for written permission is
both courteous and ethical as well as giving legal clarity.

> (Maybe in future we should add a check box for that to the SGA, or
> something like that?)

Revising standard legal documents takes a lot of energy. Not sure
there'd be traction to revise just for this but yes, I'd support
adding something next time the software grant is revision. Raise a
legal JIRA :-)

Process at Apache continuously evolves. Almost always, committers have
been available to act as agents. In this case, the community and the
copyright owner have no intersection. If anyone could find a few
cycles to submit a patch for the IP clearance process [1] reminding
that written permission is needed in addition to the grant, that'd be
great :-)


> So, for Apache committer authored files, SVN is the canonical record
> of the copyright owners contributions, and the Apache ID's used in SVN
> can be traced back to iCLAs, etc.


When committing a patch submitted from another contributor, the CLAs
requires that the original contributor is credited. It is conventional
to include information about the source of the contribution as well.
For example, a JIRA number or a link to the mail-archives. The ALv2
includes the legal paperwork required to accept patches from
contributors[2] without further ado. Again this allows version control
to audit provenance.


> It sounds like we're asking for permission to remove the Oracle
> copyright statements from the individual source files and to put a
> statement in the NOTICE file like your [6].  This will probably
> require that Oracle confirm their preferred form for this, in
> particular the range of years.  We have statements in individual
> files, but it looks like we need a statement that applies to the
> entire codebase.

Roy is happy that Apache has the permission required[3]. So, I'm
happy. Unless someone jumps in sometime soon then IMHO we'll have
enough lazy consensus to progress...

>> A source header[5] is legal boilerplate included within a document,
>> and (as Apache understands it) excludes the copyright notice. For our
>> example, the source header is [7] which gives some general meta-data,
>> disclaims warranty and refers to a public license (LGPLv3) for the
>> file (and so is quite typical). The copyright owner (or anyone with a
>> appropriate license) may issue any number of licenses[8] for a
>> document. An appropriate source header allows a license to be bundled
>> with the document[9] but does not prevent the document being licensed
>> in other ways.
> So the fact that Oracle gave us the source file under Apache 2.0 does
> not undo its availability under the previous LGPL license....

Bit more involved than that.

Oracle has provided source offering a LGPLv3 license. Apache is
distributing (through subversion) this source but anyone who wants to
take advantage of that offer is taking a license from Oracle (not

Oracle has also granted (non-exclusive) rights to Apache under a
software grant. These rights enable Apache (not Oracle) to offer an
ALv2.0 license for the source to the public (and continue to develop
derived versions). This is a subtle distinction but important for some
downstream consumers.

>> For someone with a suitable alternative license, modifying or removing
>> a source header should not required additional written permission. In
>> particular, source arriving at Apache under a CCLA, ICLA or software
>> grant should have a suitable alternative license. So that downstream
>> consumers are clear about the license issued by Apache (and to
>> simplify maintenance), policy asks that source arriving under CLAs and
>> grants is edited to replace the existing header with the standard
>> Apache source header [10].
> ...however, in cases where the code is outright given to the project
> under ALv2 via mechanisms like an SGA, we replace other license
> headers with ALv2 headers.

Apache prefers copyright licenses to ownership. Code copyright is
almost never given outright.

Apache agrees with contributors (through CLAs, software grants and
ALv2 clause 5) that they license their contributions to Apache. Apache
then offers an open source license for the work to the public.

> And what about the part that says "DO NOT ALTER OR REMOVE COPYRIGHT
> NOTICES OR THIS FILE HEADER"?   If I understand correctly, we will
> request permission to move the copyright from Oracle.  And that we
> don't need additional permissions to remove the header, beyond the
> permissions we have via the SGA.


>> For source that is not covered by CLAs or grants, different rules
>> apply [11]. So the key question for every document is whether it is
>> covered by the grant or it's inclusion relies on the application of an
>> open source license.
> For this project we need to be very careful to remember that not all
> files in the source tree were covered by the SGA.  In particular there
> are other 3rd party open source components.  So we need to be careful.


>> Questions? Want more details? Should I move on to strategy suggestions?
> I think I understand this better.  Thanks.
> So, strategy....  Will Apache Rat help with this?  I thought it had a
> mode that added Apache headers.  But I don't know if it handles
> something like this, where we are removing existing headers as well.

This is something where automated help is essential. But I expect some
tinkering and script development will be required.

Any more questions?


     See patches welcome on
[2] Clause 5 of the Apache License, Version 2.0

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