[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