For Approval: Educational Community License 1.0

Christopher D. Coppola chris.coppola at
Wed Apr 18 03:17:24 UTC 2007

I'm writing to request approval of the Educational Community License  
2.0.  ECL 2.0 is intended to replace ECL 1.0 (http:// and it is closely modeled after  
the Apache 2.0 license in an effort to reduce the burdens of license  
proliferation.  Our eventual goal is to adopt the Apache 2.0 license  
itself, however we cannot adopt the Apache 2.0 license in its current  
version because the colleges and universities that are the primary  
contributors to our projects face restrictions on their ability to  
grant patent licenses that are incompatible with the current version  
of the Apache license.  ECL 2.0 is intended to make as few changes to  
the Apache license as possible, while remedying this incompatibility.

A little background...

I'm making this request on behalf of a number of large open source  
communities that are developing open source applications for  
education, primarily colleges and universities. ECL 1.0 is presently  
used by the Sakai Foundation (, the Kuali  
Foundation (, and a number of smaller open source  
projects within the higher education community.

The Sakai and Kuali Foundations are not-for-profit organizations  
modeled after the Apache Foundation and dedicated to coordinating  
community activities and safeguarding the community's intellectual  
property. The Sakai Foundation is developing enterprise collaboration  
and learning software and has more than 100 institutional members  
from around the world. The Kuali Foundation is developing a number of  
ERP-type applications for colleges and universities in areas such as  
Financials, Endowment Management, Research Administration, and  
Student Services.

Over the past few years, we have developed an IP management practice  
modeled after Apache's. We use inbound licenses modeled after the  
Apache's Contributor License Agreements. We also have a rigorous  
evaluation process for third party software that is proposed for  
inclusion in our distribution as part of our QA process, and we  
supplement this with periodic third party reviews using outside  
consultants / software tools and counsel.

As part of this process, we have attempted to adopt the form of  
contribution agreement used by Apache for use in connection with  
contributions by educational institutions.  We wanted to use the  
Apache form of contribution agreement so that we could eventually  
move away from ECL 1.0 and move towards adoption of the Apache form  
of open source license.

In the process, however, we discovered an incompatibility between the  
patent clause in the Apache license and the rules that these  
educational institutions must follow.  The incompatability has two  
features:  First, while these educational institutions want to  
encourage contributions to these projects because they have the  
potential to be of enormous benefit to the entire higher education  
community, many research institutions simply do not have the ability  
to grant a patent license that will cover not only inventions by the  
individual faculty who are contributing to these projects, but also  
faculty and staff that have no involvement with the projects.  In  
this regard, they are unlike a corporation that might wish to  
contribute to an open source project, where the corporation will  
typically control the patents that may be embodied in their  
contribution under relevant employment agreements.  Second, in many  
cases these universities are subject to pre-existing research and  
grant funding agreements that limit their ability to grant patent  

The need to evolve ECL 1.0

In November we held an international licensing summit among our  
community with the goal of developing a common licensing framework  
that would serve to minimize the friction of licensing when  
contributing to and adopting open source software among colleges and  
universities. See  One key outcome of  
the summit was the decision to try to move towards adoption of the  
Apache 2.0 form of outbound license.  This was favored for a number  
of reasons:

1. It is a popular license and therefore would likely be accepted  
more readily
2. Adopting the Apache license would help with license proliferation
3. It includes a patent license
4. It would create a high degree of inbound/outbound licensing  
symmetry with our contribution agreements.

Unfortunately, adopting the Apache license outright isn't an  
immediate option for our community, because of the patent-related  
issues described above.  Adopting the Apache 2.0 form of outbound  
license would break the symmetry between the inbound contribution  
agreements that our participating institutions are able to provide,  
we obviously cannot make claims in the outbound license that are not  
supported by the inbound contribution agreements. In response, we  
decided that ECL 2.0 should be a clone of Apache with minimal changes  
to achieve inbound/outbound license symmetry.  This is what we are  
submitting for approval today.

I'll wrap up my rationale for our approach, and for approval with the  
following considerations:

1. As far as we know, ECL 1.0 is in use only within our community. We  
have a very cohesive community and will endeavor to eliminate the use  
of ECL 1.0 if ECL 2.0 is approved. This could be achieved in as  
little as 6 months.

2. Our ultimate goal is to move to one of the popular licenses  
altogether and eliminate ECL. This will take some time, but a  
representative of Apache participated in our licensing summmit in  
November, and we hope to continue our dialogue with the Apache  
Foundation about the issues colleges and universities face in trying  
to use the current Apache licenses. We're hopeful that over some  
period of time, our community will bend a little, and the Apache  
license will evolve so that our community and the license converge.  
At this point we would do our best to retire ECL 2 altogether.

3. We cannot move to Apache 2.0 immediately due to the importance of  
contributor license agreements, the limitations on the claims  
universities are able to make in those CLAs, and the asymmetry  
created if our outbound license has claims more broad than our  
inbound licenses.

Text version of ECL 2:

Formatted version:


Kuali CCLA:

Thank you for considering this request,

Chris Coppola
chris.coppola at

President, The rSmart Group
Director, The Sakai Foundation
Director, The Kuali Foundation

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>
-------------- next part --------------
An embedded and charset-unspecified text was scrubbed...
Name: ecl2.txt
URL: <>
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the License-discuss mailing list