[Libreoffice] LibreOffice licensing

Kohei Yoshida kyoshida at novell.com
Mon Jun 6 08:44:37 PDT 2011

On Mon, 2011-06-06 at 07:39 -0700, BRM wrote:

> Just remember, that even with LGPL/GPL the changes _do not have to be 
> contributed back to the community_; only made available to the customers of that 
> product upon request (per LGPL, GPL and MPL).

Not entirely correct.  The source has to be made available to the legal
recipients of the binary.  Whether or not they are customers is
irrelevant in this context.

> IOW, TDF may not necessarily get the contribution. It's just like any downstream 
> project - they can modify it and don't necessarily have to contribute those 
> modifications back to the upstream project.

Sure.  But we can certainly ask for the source if we are interested, and
they are obligated to provide it if we have (legally) received the
binary, under the same license as the original source code.  This is a
very important point.

> Sure, it works best when they do as everyone benefits, but they are not 
> _required_ to do so.

I wouldn't put it that way.  It works better for the downstream
maintainers if they upstream their work, to make it easier to maintain
their own modifications.  If they think the benefit outweighs the cost
of upstreaming, then they have every right not to upstream their

> I only mention this, as it is often overlooked - and in comments like the above 
> - by Meeks and others - they seem to forget that aspect about Copy-Left, 

I don't think it is overlooked, but is already implied.

> (MPL says for 12 months; FSF 
> recommends per GPL/LGPL 3 years).

This I didn't know.  Good to know.

> My point being that Allen is 100% correct, and copy-left does not prevent the 
> situation you all seem to be so concerned about. Remember, Copy-Left is about 
> the End-User, not the Developer.

In the context where copy-left licenses such as GPL/LGPL are used, the
"end users" sometimes (or many times) equal "developers".

Surely the majority of "end users" of consumer applications who are not
developers or servicers of those apps don't really care about the
availability of the source code, though they may care more about the
availability of the binaries.  They may want to have the source
available in case they need to hire consultancies to service the
software after the purchase (or download), but even in those cases the
direct beneficiaries of the copy-left licenses (often referred to as
"users" in some context) are developers who end up servicing the app for
the users of the binary.


Kohei Yoshida, LibreOffice hacker, Calc
<kyoshida at novell.com>

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