[Libreoffice] LibreOffice licensing

Allen Pulsifer pulsifer at openoffice.org
Sat Jun 4 05:48:58 PDT 2011

> If I understand correctly:
> What is developed by the Apache license can be "used" at LibreOffice but
what is done by LibreOffice
> can not be used by OpenOffice as OpenOffice would move to offer the
principles of under the GPL.

I'm not sure this is entirely correct.  TDF allowed itself some license
flexibility by asking that all contributions to LO be licensed under both
the LGPL and the MPL.

Originally, TDF took OOo code under the LGPL, combined it with dual licensed
LGPL/MPL contributions, and licensed the combined work under the LGPL, as
required by the LGPL.

That situation will likely change in the near future.  The original OOo code
will shortly be released under the Apache License (AL).  The Apache License
allows anyone to take the code and use it in a proprietary work.  Once the
OOo code is released under the AL, I expect to see many people recompiling
OOo and selling it, some with no modifications, some with their own
proprietary closed-source enhancements.

The Apache Foundation will also likely to be hosting an Apache OpenOffice
project where people can make contributions to that codebase, with the
contributions also licensed under the Apache License.  TDF will be able to
use those contributions in LO.  Everyone else will also be able to use those
contributions, in both open-source and proprietary projects.

Here's the tricky part.  With the release of the original OOo code under the
Apache License, it may now be possible, depending on license compatibility,
to take the original OOo under the AL, combine it with LO modifications
under the MPL, and incorporate that code into a closed-source project.  If
that is possible, we may also soon see the LO code incorporated into
proprietary products.

I'm not an expert on the compatibility of these two licenses however, either
with each other or with proprietary code.  Can anyone offer an opinion or
shed some light on this?  Which of the following could occur, once the
original OOo codebase is released under the Apache License?

1. TDF takes OOo under the Apache License and combines it with LO
contributions under the LGPL/MPL and licenses the combined work
(LibreOffice) under both the LGPL and MPL?

2. A third party takes OOo under the Apache License and combines it with LO
contributions under the MPL and proprietary closed-source code of its own to
create a proprietary closed-source product?

Regardless of the above two situations, the Apache Software Foundation will
not take LO modifications dual-licensed under the LGPL and MPL and include
them in the Apache OpenOffice distribution.  There may be no license barrier
to that, but ASF has a policy barrier that prevents it: the ASF has a policy
that all code distributed at the ASF must be licensed only under the Apache
License.  The ASF will not incorporate any code that requires a different
license.  That would not however stop third parties from combining the
Apache OpenOffice code with LibreOffice code and doing with that whatever
both licenses allowed.

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