[License-discuss] Category "B" licenses at Apache
Tzeng, Nigel H.
Nigel.Tzeng at jhuapl.edu
Thu Aug 20 23:35:39 UTC 2015
Please note that ECL is an OSI approved license based on Apache and not Eclipse. Using ECL in the same sentence as MPL is mildly confusing even when you (re)define the acronym in the previous paragraph when using EPL would be more clear.
As far as differentiating between source and object code I believe that the Apache statement for category B licenses is correct. The "exposed surface area" at risk IS much lower than if source was available inside the Apache project as a default. You are under license obligation if you cut and paste from these EPL/MPL/etc source files and since the source files are not present you can’t accidentally do so without explicitly getting that source from somewhere. By making that an extra step Apache is reducing the risk of an accidental copyright violation.
Without the source files you also can't easily modify the MPL/etc work for which the modified source must be provided by you instead of just pointing upstream to some place the original source can be found.
Whether or not the binary and source are considered the same work under copyright is immaterial…distributing only the binary format reduces the risk of accidental violations for code licensed under some, if not all, weak copyleft licenses by eliminating/reducing some of the most common opportunities for making a mistake.
It strikes me that this is a pragmatic and useful risk reduction strategy in handling weak copyleft code within ALv2 projects that helps protect both maintainers and users of the Apache product.
Apache should probably provide that source separately as a matter of policy for handling category B licensed components rather than just point upstream to a source that could disappear a few years down the road. There’s a bit of orphaned java code out there where the original projects and their repos have disappeared.
Maybe Apache does but it’s not explicitly written in the FAQ to do anything but include the URL to the product’s homepage where presumably the source is available. Maybe I read that part wrong or there is a more exhaustive checklist somewhere else of what the Apache project needs to do when using Category B components.
From: License-discuss <license-discuss-bounces at opensource.org<mailto:license-discuss-bounces at opensource.org>> on behalf of Lawrence Rosen <lrosen at rosenlaw.com<mailto:lrosen at rosenlaw.com>>
Reply-To: Lawrence Rosen <lrosen at rosenlaw.com<mailto:lrosen at rosenlaw.com>>, License Discuss <license-discuss at opensource.org<mailto:license-discuss at opensource.org>>
Date: Monday, August 17, 2015 at 3:20 PM
To: License Discuss <license-discuss at opensource.org<mailto:license-discuss at opensource.org>>
Subject: [License-discuss] Category "B" licenses at Apache
An Apache member wrote that this ASF license objective is firmly held: To allow our customers to "redistribute with closed-source modifications."
That objective remains completely and always enforceable for ALv2 code. It is not enforceable for Eclipse (ECL) components or MPLv2 components.
These are two different but entirely valid ways to FOSS. Reciprocity is a license condition for some FOSS licenses. There is nothing evil in that. It is always an author's prerogative to choose her FOSS license.
None of the companies in Eclipse Foundation have any objection whatsoever (that I've heard) to the inclusion of ECL and MPLv2 components into Apache aggregations. Indeed, they collectively and enthusiastically create such valuable FOSS components for that very purpose. They include them in their own products.
So is the objective "to redistribute with closed-source modifications" intended to describe an actual Apache concern, or a religious objection to all reciprocal licenses? Certainly not the latter!
According to the current Apache Third Party License Policy<http://www.apache.org/legal/resolved.html>, ASF doesn't really object to these reciprocal FOSS licenses; they are handled as exceptions. In the Policy "this is colloquially known as the Category B list."
But then that Policy makes the following strange explanation for Category B and its enforcement conditions at ASF: "By including only the object/binary form, there is less exposed surface area of the third-party work from which a work might be derived; this addresses the second guiding principle of this policy."
That "object/binary form" requirement and the reference to "exposed surface area" in the Policy are nonsense. I repeat three statements I made here previously:
· The binary and source forms of a work are, from a copyright perspective, the exact same work subject to the exact same FOSS license. Stop wasting time trying to distinguish them legally.
· Apache is committed to FOSS. For that reason, we should always publish source code. Binaries are a convenience for our customers published by our projects, but never without source code.
· Our failure, or our customer's failure, to make that source code available (including of course any ALv2 code) and copies of all relevant licenses, is a probable breach of license and possible copyright infringement. All modern technology companies understand that about FOSS and copyright law.
The "second guiding principle" referred to in the current Apache Policy is this:
2. The license must not place restrictions on the distribution of independent works that simply use or contain the covered work.
This accurately and precisely refers to "independent works" and not "derivative works." Reciprocity has nothing to do with independent works. Every FOSS license (except perhaps under the GPL "static linking" doctrine) satisfies this second guiding principle. See OSD.
P.S. I don't know if this message will survive legal-discuss@ list moderation, so I intend to send it onto other lists. All quotations are from public ASF lists.
"If this were legal advice it would have been accompanied by a bill."
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