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On Sun, Jun 05, 2011 at 12:12:59PM +0100, Ian Lynch wrote:
I don't see how it is possible to "take it all back" Once licensed that code
and subsequent derivatives are not in their control. Just like LO can go on
developing as before.  If they fork the project under their own new license,
yes they could make a proprietary version but then so can anyone. I don't
see that in Oracles plans - if it was why bother with ASF at all? To drag in
some developers? 

Because Apache does not require copyright assignment, Oracle retains copyright
on the materials that they have licensed to the ASF under the terms of the
software grant.  However, once the commits start on the new podling, Oracle
will only have the right to use the ever-expanding delta under the same terms
as everyone else.  They can maintain their own proprietary fork incorporating
the ASF product, but they cannot *prevent* anyone else from competing with
them by doing the same.

A common read of Oracle's recent actions is that they plan to wash their hands
of OO.o, but for the sake of argument let's imagine that that's not the case
and that they plan to sell a proprietary version.  Yes, they get "free"
development from all the people contributing to the ASF codebase, but they do
not get *exclusive* rights to use those contributions, and thus those
"free" contributions confer limited commercial marketplace advantage.

And just in case that is not clear to some readers: If you contribute code
under the Apache License, you might just as well have contributed that
code to Oracle with copyright assigignment. The copryright assignment was
there only to nullify the protection granted to you by the GPL as far as
the assignee (Oracle) is concerned. Apache License achieve the same thing,
just more straight forwardly, with a much more polish PR spin on it.

So if you had objection to contribute to Oracle under these terms you
should be just as reluctant to contribute anything under the Apache

I'll let the Apache people reply to that as they are much better qualified
to do so than I am.

Consolidation of copyright in the hands of one entity enables unilateral
relicensing.  We have all just seen that in action with Oracle's software
grant of the OO.o codebase under ALv2 to the ASF, but it was also in evidence
earlier when Oracle licensed OO.o to IBM for use as the basis for Lotus

Now that Oracle has signed the ALv2 software grant and made the codebase
available under an attribution-based, permissive license, IBM doesn't need the
previous privately negotiated arrangement.  The relicensing revenue stream has
been closed off for Oracle.  Any code that you contribute to the ASF will
similarly, not be available for a commercial entity to relicense.  

For this and other reasons, licensing your code to the ASF is very different
from assigning copyright to Oracle.  It is true that code that contribute to
the ASF may be used in proprietary products, which some people may find
objectionable for various reasons.  However, having a foundation such as the
ASF or TDF serve as the custodian for projects where copyright ownership is
distributed throughout the community imposes constraints that are not in place
when copyrights are consolidated in the hands of a single commercial entity.

Disclaimer: I participate in ASF projects, but I'm speaking as just some guy
on the internet trying to help everyone out.

Marvin Humphrey

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