InterBase Public License (IPL) & Initial Developers Public License (IDPL)

Paul Beach pbeach at
Thu May 5 10:07:57 UTC 2005

Et al,

The Firebird Foundation and the Firebird Project ask you to consider allowing us to display the Open Source Initiative logo.  Our
licenses, the Interbase Public License V1.0 (IPL) and the Initial Developer’s Public License V1.0 (IDPL), are variants of the
Mozilla Public License V1.1.  They differ from the MPL V1.1 only to reflect the fact that Netscape did not create the original code.

We have two licenses because independent developers wrote much of our code after Borland Software released the initial code.  Those
developers are unwilling to recognize Borland as the originator of the code they created or give Borland rights to offer their code
under different licenses.  We are not proposing our licenses as models for other projects; they don’t solve any problems that the
MPL doesn’t solve, except giving us the rights that the MPL gives to Netscape.

We prepared a paragraph-by-paragraph comparison of the three licenses:  the Mozilla Public License V1.1, the Interbase Public
License V1.0, and the Initial Developers Public License V1.0.

The comparison is available here:;PAGES;NAME='license_comparisons'

The Interbase Public License is available here:

The Initial Developers Public License is available here:;PAGES;NAME='ibp_idpl'

The Firebird Project & the Firebird Foundation

The Firebird Project is a group of independent developers who own the copyright to code that they produce.  The project is hosted at
SourceForge.  Most of the developers have other jobs and work on Firebird in their spare time.  Some have stipends from the
Foundation, and a few work for companies that pay them to work on Firebird.  The Firebird Foundation is a non-profit corporation
that owns the Firebird trademark.  The copyright to the code – its ownership – remains with its authors.

Project History:

Firebird is a relational database management system, and a fork of the Open Source InterBase.  InterBase is a proprietary product of
Borland Software.  In July of 2000, Borland released the source code of InterBase 6.0 under the “InterBase Public License”:  the
Mozilla Public License V1.1 with modifications to Section 6 Versions of the License, some trademark protection, and an obnoxious
advertising clause.

Borland chose the MPL as a model because they anticipated moving customers with proprietary – closed – products to the open source
database.  At the time, early in 2000, there was less clarity about the GPL and the meaning of “linking”.  Borland wanted a license
that would assure their customers that using the open source code would not affect their rights to code they developed.

Immediately after releasing the code on SourceForge, Borland had second thoughts about giving up the license revenue that InterBase
brought them.  They abandoned the project and their development group continued to work on a closed source version of InterBase.

Whatever we may think of that license, it is the license granted by Borland, the copyright holder of the original code base, and
cannot be changed without their permission, which is not forthcoming.

A group of developers outside of Borland who had planned to be involved with the project forked the code, creating Firebird.  A few
months later, as we began to create our own code, it occurred to us that crediting Borland with the creation of our code was
unreasonable.  At that time, the fall of 2000, the Free Software Foundation argued that the NPL – the original model for the MPL –
was incompatible with the GPL. (  Having one product with two incompatible licenses
seemed unwise, so we created the Initial Developer’s Public License, following the MPL and IPL models, but leaving credit for the
creation of the code and the right to issue the code under other licenses to the person who created it.

We believe we are, in every sense of the word, an open source project.  We hope you agree and will allow us to display the OSI logo.

Paul Beach
Firebird Project Administrator
President - Firebird Foundation

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