[OSGeo-Discuss] role of foundation with regard to licensing

2009-11-18 Thread Tim Schaub

Hey-

Not sure if this is well understood or has been covered here before. 
I'm curious about the role of the foundation in licensing code for 
distribution.


If an OSGeo project assigns copyright to OSGeo, I imagine it is OSGeo 
that ultimately makes the decision on how to license the code for 
distribution.  I'm not sure *who* exactly OSGeo is in this context.


The incubation process ensures that code is under an OSI approved 
license [1].  I haven't seen any other information on who makes 
decisions about (re)licensing the code after incubation - and I'm 
interested only in the case where OSGeo holds copyright.


Without knowing any of the legal details, what I would like to see is 
some arrangement by which the Project Steering Committee for a 
particular project becomes part of the foundation in some way, so that 
the PSC has the responsibility of making licensing decisions for the 
project.  I imagine this would happen with some constraints from the 
foundation (e.g. OSI approved licenses only)


I know that in practice, this is probably the way things already are. 
Why rock the boat?  Why assign copyright to OSGeo in the first place [2]?


Tim

[1] http://www.osgeo.org/incubator/process/evaluation.html
[2] My answer would include because it gives legal status to the PSC 
that allows it to make licensing decisions for the project.


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Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] role of foundation with regard to licensing

2009-11-18 Thread Christopher Schmidt
On Wed, Nov 18, 2009 at 11:12:43AM -0800, Tyler Mitchell wrote:
 On Wed, 18 Nov 2009 11:16:13 -0500
 Frank Warmerdam warmer...@pobox.com wrote:
 
   I know that in practice, this is probably the way things already
   are. Why rock the boat?  Why assign copyright to OSGeo in the
   first place [2]?  
  
  The primary reason to assign copyright to OSGeo is to make it easier
  to relicense in the future.  It is very hard to relicense a project
  with copyright held by many contributors.
  
  There are also reasons not to assign license, foremost being the
  paperwork overhead involved in contributions agreements for all
  contributors.  Some contributors are also hesitant to surrender their
  control over their contribution.
 
 A few questions about copyright have come across my desk or
 face-to-face at events this year.  Frank, for the sake of
 others on the list, could you give us an overview of what does it mean
 to be an OSGeo project if OSGeo itself does not hold the copyright?  
 
 I think the question was geared toward whether or not OSGeo could
 guarantee future appropriate licensing of a product that
 it has arms-length influence over - or would a non-complying project
 then be rejected somehow?

First, once code is released under a given license, that license can't
later be 'removed' in any meaningful way: OSGeo will always be able to
maintain and distribute code which was openly licensed at any point, 
which is a requirement of becoming an incubated project. As far as 
that goes, OSGeo could always continue to provide a home for open source
code that has ever gone through the OSGeo incubation process.

If a project were to attempt to 'rescind' its openly licensed status,
I believe that it would be the job of OSGeo to: 
 
 1. Work to prevent such a change from happening. Given the communities
we're working with, I think there would be very strong social
pressure against any incubated project going from open source to
closed source; changes like these typically simply end up leading to
a fork, and OSGeo could continue to provide a home to a community
built around the open source project.

 2. If all else failed, it would be possible for OSGeo to maintain
resources for the open source code, but would probably do best to
retire the project, similar to how MapBuilder was retired (but
obviously for different reasons).

Being an OSGeo project means that the project is a participant in the
OSGeo community. Sharing information, collaboration, and resources with
other projects in the foundation is the primary motivation for OSGeo
projects to continue to participate.

OSGeo is not a controlling foundation; in this way, it is somewhat
unlike the Apache Software Foundation and the Free Software Foundation,
which take a direct ownership over the projects. This means that OSGeo's
role in exerting control over the direction the project takes is
limited. However, OSGeo's role as a parent organization means that OSGeo
can act as a shepard to code/projects, regardless of the directions that
may be taken otherwise.

Becoming an OSGeo project means putting your project out there, and
participating in a shared community. As a result, you get to exert some
control on OSGeo, and OSGeo works with the project to help it succeed.
If a project were to take a path away from open source, OSGeo would act
as a shepard for the project unless it was no longer in a position where
it made sense to do so, at which point the project would no longer be a
participating project in OSGeo.

This is just what seems to me to be the most reasonable and logical
approach to the situation as it stands today.

Best Regards,
-- 
Christopher Schmidt
Web Developer
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Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] role of foundation with regard to licensing

2009-11-18 Thread Frank Warmerdam

Tyler Mitchell (OSGeo) wrote:

A few questions about copyright have come across my desk or
face-to-face at events this year.  Frank, for the sake of
others on the list, could you give us an overview of what does it mean
to be an OSGeo project if OSGeo itself does not hold the copyright?  


Tyler,

I think Chris addressed this quite well.

I would add the goal of open source licenses are mostly to remove
barriers to utilization based on proprietary rights and control.
Once those have been waived by putting something under an open source
license it is *relatively* unimportant who holds the copyright rights
except that the copyright holder can choose to also offer the code
under alternative licenses.

Projects that don't assign copyright generally cannot be relicensed
due to the dispersion of the copyright holders, though individual
contributors might be able to make use of fragments of their
contributions in other contexts under other licenses.


I think the question was geared toward whether or not OSGeo could
guarantee future appropriate licensing of a product that
it has arms-length influence over - or would a non-complying project
then be rejected somehow?


Chris addressed this as well.  Basically we would be prepared to
support a fork that remained open source if a project attempted to
go closed.  I don't really see this as a serious concern in practice,
but even in theory there is no taking something away once it was open
sourced.


Just trying to remember some of the other questions I've heard.  Are
any of the above realistic concerns?


I don't see any reason to be very concerned about OSGeo having
control, or any need to guarantee things will stay open.

Best regards,
--
---+--
I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam, warmer...@pobox.com
light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
and watch the world go round - Rush| Geospatial Programmer for Rent

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Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] role of foundation with regard to licensing

2009-11-18 Thread Tim Schaub

Hey-

Frank Warmerdam wrote:

Tim,

The PSC is considered to be a committee of the foundation, and in 
particular

it's representative is considered to be an officer of the foundation
(corporation) giving them some ability to speak for the foundation legally.



Ok.  I didn't get this from a read of 
http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Project_Steering_Committees (the part about 
consideration as a committee and PSC rep as officer of foundation).


I think this answers my question.  I didn't know how formal the 
arrangement was (or even needs to be).


  I imagine this would happen with some constraints from the 
foundation (e.g.

OSI approved licenses only)

I know that in practice, this is probably the way things already are. 
Why

rock the boat?  Why assign copyright to OSGeo in the first place [2]?


The primary reason to assign copyright to OSGeo is to make it easier to
relicense in the future.  It is very hard to relicense a project with 
copyright

held by many contributors.


Right.  The reason I was asking was because I assumed the copyright 
assignment was primarily about relicensing.  Finding no information 
specifically on how the foundation determines what license to use, I was 
unsure how things would go in practice.


Sounds like the process goes like this (if OSGeo holds copyright):

1) PSC votes on license
2) PSC chair advises OSGeo board
3) OSGeo board decides on license

Perhaps all this seems obvious.  As the chair of the OpenLayers PSC, I 
was asking for clarification on the process because the PSC has been 
discussing both copyright assignment and relicensing.  I just wanted to 
know who to talk to if/when we make any decisions.  Sounds like the 
OSGeo board.


Just added http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Licensing

All mushy language.  If someone wants to firm it up (or delete it), 
please do.


Thanks,
Tim



There are also reasons not to assign license, foremost being the paperwork
overhead involved in contributions agreements for all contributors.  Some
contributors are also hesitant to surrender their control over their
contribution.

Best regards,



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Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] role of foundation with regard to licensing

2009-11-18 Thread Frank Warmerdam

Tim Schaub wrote:

Sounds like the process goes like this (if OSGeo holds copyright):

1) PSC votes on license
2) PSC chair advises OSGeo board
3) OSGeo board decides on license


Tim,

Actually the steps would be:

1) PSC votes on license
2) PSC chair declares motion passed, and directs the license update
on behalf of OSGeo.

You could notify the board as a courtesy but it isn't required.

Best regards,
--
---+--
I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam, warmer...@pobox.com
light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
and watch the world go round - Rush| Geospatial Programmer for Rent

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Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] role of foundation with regard to licensing

2009-11-18 Thread Tim Schaub

Brian Russo wrote:

So to sum up the themes of this thread..

OSGeo really just acts as an administrative body within with projects 
can have some legal existence, but effectively has no say on 
day-to-day tasks involving projects, etc.


The actual direction of the projects sponsored by OSGeo is really the 
responsibility of the relevant committee/developers.




This is now my understanding as well.  Chris (Schmidt) and I had a 
discussion about this the other day.  I was interested in seeing if the 
OSGeo member projects' steering committees could actually be recognized 
as some sort of legal entity by becoming a member project.


It sounds like the PSC representative for a member project automagically 
becomes an officer of the foundation, giving them the ability to make 
licensing decisions on behalf of the foundation.


That's tidy.

Tim


Miss anything relevant?

 - bri

On Wed, Nov 18, 2009 at 4:31 PM, Frank Warmerdam warmer...@pobox.com 
mailto:warmer...@pobox.com wrote:


Tim Schaub wrote:

Sounds like the process goes like this (if OSGeo holds copyright):

1) PSC votes on license
2) PSC chair advises OSGeo board
3) OSGeo board decides on license


Tim,

Actually the steps would be:


1) PSC votes on license
2) PSC chair declares motion passed, and directs the license update
on behalf of OSGeo.

You could notify the board as a courtesy but it isn't required.


Best regards,
-- 
---+--

I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam,
warmer...@pobox.com mailto:warmer...@pobox.com
light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
http://pobox.com/%7Ewarmerdam
and watch the world go round - Rush| Geospatial Programmer for Rent

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