[Posted under wrong name. This blog is from Peter Tanner, OpenNTF IP manager:]

Its been an interesting few months at OpenNTF from an Intellectual Property perspective.  Everyone contributing to OpenNTF is now covered by a contribution agreement, which helps to protects your rights to use the code.   And not only were there nearly 50 contest entries to scan, but we have been scanning most of the OpenNTF submissions that have been made since the beginning of the year. And all the projects that have passed the scan have been entered into the OpenNTF Catalog.

So – what is this scan?  

Well – IBM has licensed its code-scanning tool to OpenNTF for doing IP checks on OpenNTF submissions.  The tool helps me check for third party code that people have forgotten to mention in their Notice files.

So, my main work is actually quite simple – is the third party code that I find in a submission, listed in the Notice file, and are the licenses for the third party code compatible with the overall submission license?

So – what have I been seeing?

Well, first of all, OpenNTF submissions are generally in good shape.  Nearly everyone includes the License and Notice files in the zip file – which is a good way of protecting the authors' ongoing rights to the code.  

And, interestingly, nearly all the submissions are made under Apache.  

The problems I see are often due to incompatibility of licenses.  This is a really tricky area.  Oddly, licenses in the GPL family are not always compatible with each other.  For example, according to http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#AllCompatibility, you can't use GPL2-licensed code in a GPL3 project.  

What happens most frequently with OpenNTF submissions is that authors would like to include an LGPL package, but license the overall project under Apache.  Unfortunately, that doesn't work (see Category X here – http://www.apache.org/legal/3party.html).  In this case, the project ends up being licensed under GPL3 (which can contain an LGPL element).  

So, while it is clear that the Apache license is favored, submitters end up licensing under GPL3 so that they can include other open source that they received under LGPL or GPL.  

If you have any IP questions about your current or future OpenNTF submissions, please do not hesitate to send me an email.  

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