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On Sun, Jun 5, 2011 at 9:06 PM, Marvin Humphrey <> wrote:
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.

I am still not clear on what constraints it imposes.  In the previous
system, companies had to either use a copyleft license, or they could
buy a license from Sun/Oracle.  Assuming they did the latter, and it
was in the license agreement, they could do whatever they want in
their own version without giving anything back to the open-source

In practical terms, the only difference I can see now is that
Sun/Oracle is no longer restricting things.  Anyone can take the
software and make their own internal changes without having to give
anything back.  So I can see how this is a constraint to the
open-source community since they can no longer put pressure on
companies to contribute back to the project.  I can also see how it
adds contraint to Oracle.  But this seems to remove all the existing
restraints from all other proprietary developers.  What new contraints
are there for propietary developers besides Sun/Oracle?


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