[License-discuss] Fwd: Yet another question about using libraries with different licensed in OSS

Massimo Zaniboni massimo.zaniboni at asterisell.com
Wed Jan 18 22:45:54 UTC 2017

On 18/01/2017 23:06, Alex Rousskov wrote:

> That Appendix text is not normative because it comes after the END OF
> TERMS AND CONDITIONS marker. It is a good suggestion, but it is not a
> part of the Apache licensing terms.

More precisely:

* the "normative" part is what you can do (or not) with code licensed 
under Apache/GPL license (it affects the users)

* the "How to Apply These Terms to Your New Programs" is what the author 
of programs had to do, for releasing the software under Apache or GPL 
license (it must be addressed to producers of the source code, not users)


* do you want re-use BSD/MIT/ISC code? A unique file crediting the 
authors, and the used licenses should be fine. I agree. You are 
following/respecting the "normative" part.

* do you want release new/modifie/refactored source code under a certain 
unique license? Then probably it is better following the common method: 
add a boilerplate header in each source file with copyright holder, and 
the license terms. Like required from Apache/GPL, and made from the 
majority of other OSS projects using BSD/ISC/MIT licenses.

> Using those suggested boilerplates does not make it 100% clear who the
> authors are:
> * Did the listed person A author function X or was it the listed author
> B? Or do they both hold joint copyright? Or is it their employer(s)?

Ok. In any case it's more clear from a legal point of view a copyright 
and boilerplate license on each file, than only a unique note for the 
entire project. Otherwise GPL and Apache will not suggest this.

> That 100% clarity via boilerplates is an illusion


> that gets
> progressively more expensive to support in active open source projects
> with a non-trivial number of authors. Fortunately, there is no need to
> pay that price in most cases.

I disagree that it is expensive to support. If you don't want change 
license it is very easy adding yourself to the list of authors. It can 
be a unique file, with a reference to the file in the header 
boilerplate, or you had to add yourself to every modified file, but it 
is very quick.

And if you want change license, the cost of scanning the headers and 
obtaining the complete list of copyright-holders is in any case lesser 
than rewriting the code from scratch :-) And in 99% of the cases OSS 
projects does not change license.


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