[Libreoffice] Are ISC/BSD-licensed contributions acceptable?

Sebastian Spaeth Sebastian at SSpaeth.de
Thu Nov 25 06:47:55 PST 2010

On Thu, 25 Nov 2010 13:21:33 +0000, Wols Lists wrote:
> > and edited. Tracking which line of code is licensed under which license
> > combo is a job for lawyer detectives that nobody wants to pay in the
> > end. And most probably they could not give you definitive answers anyway
> > as that case has never been tested in court in $LEGAL_DISTRICT. Pfeew.
> But that's the point of using something like git :-)

Right, so examine every bit of history of every line? What if I modify
your BSD licensed code but only do so under the LGPL/MPL? Tracking that
is horrific even with nice tools such as git. And answers as to what
kind of modification is necessary to count as derived is probably legal
gray area: removing whitespaces, renaming all variable names?
> Provided we have a policy that says "the project licence is X, all
> contributions must be compatible" I don't see that it matters WHAT
> licence contributors use. If the project policy is LGPL3+, then I don't
> think it actually makes a blind bit of difference what other licences
> people use.

Right, this policy enables us to integrate BSD-licensed 3rd party code
and I have no problem with it. But by saying, it's ok to write a patch
especially for LO and put it under any license, complicates matters and
bloats our file headers. How many copies of the "Do What The Fuck You
Want To Public License " (http://sam.zoy.org/wtfpl/) do you want in our
source files just because someone happens to like that one? (I know I
do). It brings no effecive benefit and bloats and complicates
matters. And that is against the spirit of said liberal licenses.

> It's tricky, but imho the rule should be if you make a major
> contribution to a file then you add your copyright notice. In general,
> patches, fixes, etc shouldn't. And possibly we add a line that says
> "copyright assorted contributors - see git history for details".

Sure, I agree, that copyright should be made explicit. (although git
helps a lot with finding that out)
[snip more copyright stuff]

This is not about copyright at all, I agree with you. It should be and
remains yours, no doubt.

> We want to get it right. If not, we could be storing up legal trouble
> down the line. But at the end of the day, if the consensus is that we
> want to be an LGPL project, then simply saying "all contributions must
> be LGPL3+ compatible" keeps us out of trouble. If contributors want to
> use BSD etc why should we care? 

Because it makes lifes more complex, see above? Do you really want
file.cxx to start like this? 

/** 45 lines of this code come from Wol, who licensed them under the
 * BSD. But when you are reading this, it has been merged with 10 lines
 * contributed under the Apache license, which is probably be moot 
 * because 5 lines of those had their variables renamed by a guy who 
 * happened to like the WTFPL. 
 * Parts of these things were perhaps copied into file2.cxx during 
 * refactoring by someone contributing under the lzlib
 * artistic license/CC-0 dual licensing. Have a nice day.  **/


But I won't argue any further, I just want an easy life, and consistent
licensing makes my life easier. I'll shut up now.

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