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Hello BRM,

Le Thu, 28 Oct 2010 07:12:59 -0700 (PDT),
BRM <> a écrit :

----- Original Message ----

From: Charles-H. Schulz <>
4) the notion that we cannot change license  because we don't have
copyright assignment needs to be put to rest once and  for all
today. There is a very simple explanation with respect to this
issue;  ask any lawyer and he/she will confirm this: Sun/Oracle has
licensed the  OOo code under LGPL v3. They could have put "LGPL v3
or later" or "LGPL  v3 or +". But they didn't. And that's what
makes impossible to turn  OOo into a different license unless the
sole copyright owner agrees  to change it, which is unlikely with

While I like that TDF is not requiring copyright assignment, there is
one point missing here that is in its favor.

True, Sun/Oracle has currently licensed OOo under LGPLv3.
But what's to stop them from going to LGPLv4 when it is available?
Absolutely nothing. At which point TDF may not be able to accept
changes from OOo any longer assuming it is still possible at that time
without updating the LO license to be the same or inclusive therein.

Perhaps the way around that is to require those contributing TDF to
use the "or later" language; though some may not want to.

Even without copyright assignment the only thing standing in the way
of changing the license - whether to LGPLv4 or even GPLv3 or whatever
else - is getting the permission of _all_ the copyright holders.

Good objection indeed! Actually, the problem is partly solved, since we
now license our software under "LGPL v3 or later". At least it would be
solved for the LGPL side of things. But my real answer here though, is
perhaps more provocative: if Oracle changes the licence, do we really
care? for the 3.3 we stick to the codebase of OOo, but I'm unsure we'll
stick that much  to it in further releases. In fact, I can already
point out, looking at our development activity, that we're not taking
the path of being ", just recompiled by the community". I
think as the time will go by, we will diverge more and more and end up
becoming quite different software. 

From what I understand this is already impossible to do under Linux
due to 
deaths of at least one contributor.

Yes, and in this case a rewrite is needed. 

The main reason projects move towards having copyright assignment is
to be able to keep the licensing language up to date - to use the
latest GPL/LGPL license due to exactly the issue of how hard it is to
track down every contributor and get their permission in should they
want to change the license. At present the bulk of the code is held
by Oracle and such can be most easily changed by garnishing
permission from one entity; though that will not be true for long for
TDF without copyright assignment - in which case there would be two -
TDF and Oracle.

The Linux Kernel guys don't require it; KDE E.v. does. Both methods
have their pros and cons.

Ultimately, as long as TDF and the community are aware and accept
what may occur should Oracle radically change the license it doesn't
really matter.


Just pointing out it's a little more complex than Oracle is not
likely to change the license since they very well could. Fortunately
they cannot do it retroactively, at least with the LGPL.





P.S. IANAL and such disclaimers. This is just from what I have
learned from years of watching the community and the licensing topics.

Charles-H. Schulz
Membre du Comité exécutif
The Document Foundation.

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