Over the next few days I am going to make a series of postings about the OpenNTF IP process. Today's comments will be on moving projects to the Catalog. Tomorrow I will be discussing the Best Open Source Awards, and on Thursday more on how we can move forward faster in the GPL Catalog. Please feel free to comment.

It's taken some time, but we now have the process working where projects are being vetted and placed into the Apache and GPL Catalogs. We still have some kinks to get out of the system, but projects are being scanned, poked, and prodded. Issues are being sent to the authors. Authors are revising their releases to remove the issues. There are currently 13 projects in the pipeline, three of which seem to be close to release.

But it is a slow process, and while a number of Apache-licensed projects have made it into the Catalog, only one GPL project has done so. Why is that?
For a project to be accepted into the Catalog, we want to be sure that we have the right to publish every line of code in a project – under a license compatible with the main project license. So, we scan through, looking for copyrights and other indications that code came from someone other than the author. And, of course, in an open source environment, people do use open source code written by others. So, what do we do when we find such code:

- if it is code with clear origins, and clear license that is compatible with the overall license of the project, then fine. We simply suggest that the author note the existence of the code and license in a Notice file at the root of the zip. An example of this might be an MIT-licensed or BSD-licensed in either an Apache or GPL-licensed Project.

- If some of the code is proprietary, we ask that it be placed under an open source license or removed altogether

- If there are copyright statements, without any license info, then we ask where this code came from and what license it is under.

And of course, all the source required to create the binary must be included. The is a legal requirement under the GPL.

So far, the GPL submissions have tended to have included more pre-existing open source code, and so have had more IP issues to deal with. GPL is a little tricky in that it is not compatible with a number of other open source licenses. (GPLv2 and GPLv3, for example, are not compatible, you are not permitted to mix code licensed under those two licenses in the same project.)
In any case, we are moving forward and releasing code that has gone through a measure of IP vetting – raising the bar for OpenNTF code.
Peter Tanner
IP Manager

Niklas Heidloff: You can also find this document in the IP forum (need to log in first).

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