[kde-community] licence policy updates

Michael Pyne mpyne at kde.org
Sun Feb 16 21:14:48 UTC 2014


On Sun, February 16, 2014 19:06:07 Lydia Pintscher wrote:
> On Sat, Feb 15, 2014 at 2:03 AM, Michael Pyne <mpyne at kde.org> wrote:
> > Perhaps something similar exists online as well.
> 
> http://choosealicense.com/ (developed by github after people were
> annoyed that so much unlicensed code is hosted there)
> https://creativecommons.org/choose/

Thanks for the advice.

I've prepared a rough draft of something that could probably be beaten into 
shape by a few of us.

This is literally a *rough* draft, I've done just a little bit of research by 
looking at the FLA, FRP, and Licensing Policy pages, so it's certainly 
possible I'm not accurately stating a KDE position right.

Should we get it smoothed out though it could probably be posted to 
community.kde.org (or similar) and referenced in our "new contributor" 
literature (assuming we have some! ;)

Regards,
 - Michael Pyne

--8<------

# How to pick a copyright license for KDE source

## Purpose

This guide is intended for the use of KDE contributors in selecting a license 
for new
software in a way that helps the contributor meet their individual goals for 
the
software, while keeping with the spirit of the KDE Project's purpose "... to
promote the free exchange of knowledge and equality of opportunity in
accessing software as well as education, science and research." (quoted from
[the articles of association](http://ev.kde.org/whatiskdeev.php) of the KDE
e.V.).

The selection of an appropriate license is one of the more important decisions
that a contributor can make with regard to the success of the software
project, the KDE Project itself, and even the wider ecosystem of Free and
open-source Software.

Additionally, license selection is one of the first tasks that the
contributor must complete, and becomes increasingly difficult to change (if
needed) as more people contribute to the software in question.

What that in mind, the KDE Project has prepared this guide to aid contributors
in this process.

## KDE License Requirements

KDE maintains a [list of acceptable software
licenses](http://techbase.kde.org/Policies/Licensing_Policy), which you should
briefly review before reading this guide.

Of particular note:

* The difference in emphasis on license requirements for software which is
  intended to form a "library with a public API [Application Programming
  Interface]" and for all other software (such as applications, simple
  widgets, etc.).
* The availability of license options that may change with approval of the
  membership of the KDE e.V. (in other words, an agreement on your part, if
  you wish to permit it, to allow the KDE e.V. to relicense your software
  under certain terms).
* The possibility of later adoption of your software into Qt (particularly for
  library code).
* The possibility of later adoption of your software into Qt by someone other
  than yourself (which [requires](http://qt-project.org/legal.html) your
  software use LGPL *v2.1* as of this writing).

The list of acceptable licenses for KDE software is chosen in order to meet
multiple (and sometimes conflicting) goals:

1. Above all, maintaining a source base that guarantees the KDE Project's
   ability to deliver on its goal of developing software that can be freely
   examined, modified, and redistributed.
2. Maximizing the ability of individual contributors to make contributions to
   the KDE Project in a way that satisfies the contributor's concerns
   regarding the eventual use of their software.
3. Enabling cooperation and source code sharing within the wider community to
   the maximum extent possible, to ensure the overall health of Free and
   open-source Software.
4. Minimizing the license compliance workload of our downstream packagers, to
   the extent possible.
5. Maintaining the health of software essential to the overall KDE Project
   even when the current copyright owner is unavailable.

## Contributor Viewpoint

Of course, the individual contributor has views and ideas of their own
regarding the proper use and licensing of their contribution. Many types of
contributors have made important contributions to the Project.

* Some contributors care only that their software is as widely available as
  possible, and are willing to license permissively to make this happen.
* Some contributors are concerned that their contribution is not adopted by a
  business and "taken proprietary", and use a "copyleft" license to achieve
  this.
* Some contributors share the same concern as above, with the exception of the
  Qt Project's commercial usage, and use "copyleft" licenses with specific
  exemptions for usage with the Qt libraries.
* Some contributors want to ensure that their software is automatically
  protected from future threats to Free or open-source Software by
  pre-emptively granting licenses for future versions of the GNU General
  Public License (GPL) and/or Lesser General Public License (LGPL).
* Some contributors want to ensure that their software can be used by the KDE
  Project in the future even if conditions change, and assign copyright to the
  KDE e.V. via the [Fiduciary License
  Agreement](http://ev.kde.org/rules/fla.php) process.
* Some contributors do not wish to give a license to an unknown future license
  that may contain new provisions they don't support, and limit their license
  to existing GPL and/or LGPL versions. They might also refuse to agree to the
  KDE e.V. FLA (which is also permissible).
* Some contributors wish to ensure that their software can be easily linked
  with software under different (but still Free or open) licenses, and use one
  specific license version while allowing linking to other specific license
  versions.
* Others do not wish to weaken the value of their chosen license by offering
  linking exceptions to others.

The way you feel about these points and others might also depend on the
importance of the software project in question. A simple "one-off" script
might not warrant any special protection in your mind whereas an application
that performs a vital task might require a strong license.

## Advice

These are inherently political decisions and the KDE Project cannot tell you
"which way to vote".

We can recommend you visit the [Choose a License](http://choosealicense.com/)
advisor developed by [GitHub](http://www.github.com/) to aid software
developers in selecting a license, after considering the viewpoints listed
above.

If your contribution comes in other forms you might also consider the
[Creative Commons Choose a License](https://creativecommons.org/choose/)
advisor.

Remember that your choice should still conform to the KDE Licensing Policy for
the type of contribution you are making.

## KDE's Position

License selection is at the choice of the individual contributor, within the
options determined under the Licensing Policy. We recommend also using the
Fiduciary Licensing Agreement process to give the KDE e.V. the right to
relicense in the event it becomes necessary, and also to give your
contribution strong legal protection against licensing violations.

Whatever license is chosen should be clear and unambiguous, and in accordance
with the Licensing Policy.



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