[Xapian-devel] Licensing

James Aylett james-xapian at tartarus.org
Fri Aug 7 13:06:15 BST 2009

Afternoon all. I was discussing the current licensing of Xapian and
how it influences the way we work with someone at another OSS project
recently, and although the upshot is likely to be that they'll amend
their license (it's a corporate foundation, and GPL compatibility is
something they desire for precisely this reason), it did prompt me to
think about how we're tracking where we are on the license issue.

As per <http://trac.xapian.org/wiki/FAQ/CommercialLicence>, we have a
clear idea of who owns what (modulo some uncertainty around
Brightstation copyright ownership). Certainly for easily-contactable
entities, we know who contributed to which file, and indeed could
figure out ownership down to the change level.

It strikes me that, given many of the current contributors to Xapian
are agreed in principle in a bright and shiny future of LGPL
licensing, having everyone expressly license their contributions under
the LGPL might be a helpful thing. It wouldn't get us any closer to
changing the license (which still requires replacing or removing all
code that cannot be relicensed), but it will prevent us from getting
any further away from that possibility, which might happen if a
contributor falls out of contact with the project for whatever reason.

What we do not want is to move forward to a position where we should
be able to change to LGPL, and then cannot get explicit permission
from a contributor for whatever reason; I've been in this situation
before, and it's more than slightly frustrating. Since currently the
only license grant that occurs on contributions to Xapian is GPL, this
needs an explicit statement by each contributor.

To get the ball rolling: all code and modifications I have contributed
to Xapian may be licensed under either the GPL (as stands) or LGPL (if
this is practical for the code in question). Similarly, both the GPL
and LGPL may be used for my future contributions.


  James Aylett

  talktorex.co.uk - xapian.org - uncertaintydivision.org

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