[kde-community] licence policy updates
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)
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! ;)
- Michael Pyne
# How to pick a copyright license for KDE source
This guide is intended for the use of KDE contributors in selecting a license
software in a way that helps the contributor meet their individual goals for
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
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
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
* 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
* 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
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
* 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
* 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
* 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.
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
If your contribution comes in other forms you might also consider the
[Creative Commons Choose a License](https://creativecommons.org/choose/)
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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