[Libreoffice] LibreOffice licensing

BRM bm_witness at yahoo.com
Mon Jun 6 12:32:14 PDT 2011

----- Original Message ----

> From: Kohei Yoshida <kyoshida at novell.com>
> To: BRM <bm_witness at yahoo.com>
> Cc: libreoffice at lists.freedesktop.org
> Sent: Mon, June 6, 2011 11:44:37 AM
> Subject: Re: [Libreoffice] LibreOffice licensing
> 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 
> > 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.

When dealing with a proprietary product, they are one-in-the-same, however they 
present the EULA.
> >  IOW, TDF may not necessarily get the contribution. It's just like any 
> > 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.

As you pointed out - only if you have a _legal_ right to ask.
That won't likely be the case though unless you are their customer.
Yes, they can't prevent you from distributing the GPL/LGPL/MPL portion of the 
work; but they could prevent you from distributing their additions to the degree 
that the MPL/GPL/LGPL derivative work restrictions apply, if at all.
> > 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
> changes.
> > I only mention this,  as it is often overlooked - and in comments like the 
> > - by Meeks  and others - they seem to forget that aspect about Copy-Left, 
> I don't think it is overlooked, but is already  implied.

Overlooked b/c of the nature of the statement. Your next response goes to show 

> > (MPL says for 12 months; FSF 
> > recommends per  GPL/LGPL 3 years).
> This I didn't know.  Good to know.

Most on FLOSS don't - or don't realize it. But if you stopped and read the 
license it would become obvious - especially in the MPL case, didn't take me 
long to find section 3.2, or section 6 of the GPLv3 (specifically 6.d, a-c refer 
to distributing the object code/binary while 6d covers the source requirement).

And, FYI, it doesn't have to be public - it could be behind an access protected 
service, or simply a write them and let them know you want a CD kind of thing - 
or even for free.
So yes, one could start a company, make a derivative of LO. Offer it for sale; 
even make modifications, etc. and the only recipients of the changes would be 
said customers of the proprietary version. Further, they only necessarily have 
to get the source if they request it in some form, which may or may not happen 
during the required time period. (There is no requirement in either license 
beyond the required time period.)

So, for example, a customer buys a copy from said company. After 4 years, they 
find a bug they want fixed, but the company only produced the one version. The 
customer is then out-of-luck with any ability to gain access to the source - the 
company is under no obligation to do so. Now suppose the company went out of 
business 2 years after the sale, they must then setup a means for 1 year by 
which customers can get the source (supposing Bankruptcy Court/etc allow the 
estate to meet the requirement). But if they went out of business 3 years and 1 
day after the sale then again, there is no further obligation.

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

Only if the end-user obtains the source to provide to the developer.
The developer may not necessarily be granted the right by the proprietary 
distributor to get direct access to the source.
So I still maintain that it is "end-users" and not _necessarily_ "developers" 
that Copy-left is about.
Certainly within the FLOSS community they tend to be the same more often than 
not; however that is slowly changing as more end-users (mom & pop, etc.) start 
using FLOSS produced software.
For example, my parents use OOo. My dad is very much an 'end-user' - he'll never 
develop software. Same with many others I know - they use FF, TB, OOo just fine, 
but they won't develop it and they won't likely participate in the forums/ML/IRC 
either - it's just another product to them. Yet, Copy-Left grants them the right 
to the source-code regardless.

However, if I as a developer come along and tell them that I could add some 
feature to it, they would need to ask for and obtain the source code for me if 
that was necessary.



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