On Thu, Jun 16, 2011 at 07:17, Bernhard Dippold
Hi Greg, Dennis, Friedrich, all
thanks for pointing to this very topic.
So if I understand it right, the difference is a legal one with probably
minor consequences in code usage:
While with ICLA the contributer keeps the copyright on his own (and thus
needs personal legal assistance or an additional contract in case of
copyright infringement claims) the OCA / JCA allows the entity sharing
the copyright to behave as copyright owner in legal conflicts.
I'm not familiar with the legal mechanics of OCA and JCA.
For Apache's ICLA and process... yes. The short answer is that a
third-party would not be able to sue *you* based on software they get
from the Apache Software Foundation. The Foundation is set up to
establish a trail of responsibility between the committers and the
Foundation itself. We use the word "oversight" when establishing that
The committer places code into the repository under the oversight of
the Project Management Committee (PMC). Thus, the PMC has "instructed"
the committer to do this, rather than the committer acting as a free
The PMC's actions are reviewed by the Board of the Foundation. Thus,
the Board is providing oversight and accountability to the PMC. The
PMC is operating at the direction and wishes of the Board.
The Board represents the Foundation itself, and uses this chain of
oversight to establish responsibility.
If a third party attempted to sue You for (say) some violation of
their copyright, then the Foundation can step in and say "we are
responsible. Bernhard was acting according to our wishes. sue us, not
him." The theory is that a judge will then remove you from the case,
and put Apache in there.
This is why we have the ICLA and why we structure the Foundation in a
specific way. The Foundation exists to create a legal "umbrella" for
all of its 3000 committers. Those committers should remain safe from
People simply committing into a repository do not necessarily have
this safety. There is no chain of oversight that allows an individual
to escape responsibility. This problem exists across the entire FLOSS
landscape. The saving grace is that we simply don't see these types of
lawsuits. So the Apache legal umbrella is nice, but the chances of
needing it are vanishingly small.
Both allow the entity to release the code under any license (or single
case authorization) they want to.
I don't want to discuss the possibility of positive or negative impacts
of single sided license changes in comparison to updateable "plus" licenses.
"GPLv2 or newer" leaves you with the hope that the FSF will continue
to look after *your* interests with your code. Linus Torvalds didn't
believe the FSF would do the right thing for the Linux community, so
he switched all the headers to "GPLv2". In retrospect, that was a
smart thing to do because he very much disagrees with some aspects of
But yes: entities such as Oracle and Apache, having full licensing
rights, could apply licenses that the community disagrees with.
Personally, I trust Apache do it right :-)
But is there a difference in licensing and code usage by third parties
between OCA and ICLA (except the fact, that they can use Apache licensed
code without being forced to negotiate with and probably pay fees to Oracle
if they don't want to contribute back)?
Nope. In both cases, third parties are getting code from Oracle or
Apache, under whatever license that entity provides. How the code
arrived (via OCA or ICLA) is immaterial. Both entities could provide
the license under ALv2, and you'd have the same rights to that code.
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