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Thoughts about QT 5 from Nokia

Nokia's QT Labs weblog is carrying a lengthy posting looking forward to the QT5 development cycle. "Another major change with Qt 5 will be in the development model. Qt 4 was mainly developed in-house in Trolltech and Nokia and the results were published to the developer community. Qt 5 we plan to develop in the open, as an open source project from the very start. There will not be any differences between developers working on Qt from inside Nokia or contributors from the outside."
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Thoughts about QT 5 from Nokia

Posted May 9, 2011 13:16 UTC (Mon) by Uraeus (subscriber, #33755) [Link]

Hmm, why is it that everytime I see someone talk about how they will now start developing something in the open, where all contributors are equal, it feels like code speak for 'we are reducing our own investment and commitment to this and hope 'the community' will pick up the slack'.

Thoughts about QT 5 from Nokia

Posted May 9, 2011 13:34 UTC (Mon) by sebas (subscriber, #51660) [Link]

Even if that were the case, 3rd party (non-Trolltech or Nokia devs) have been asking for more transparency and levers to the Qt development process for a long time, so more Open Governance is definitely a welcome process. Open Governance is of course all the more important as the number of stakeholders in a project grows.

Thoughts about QT 5 from Nokia

Posted May 9, 2011 13:37 UTC (Mon) by milliams (guest, #71641) [Link]

While I can't speak for Nokia's motives, I do know that a lot of the pressure for Nokia to open up more and get the Open Governance model up and running has come from the community who want to be more directly involved. So, I really do think that this should be seen in the spirit in which it is intended -- a good step forward and in the interests of both parties (Nokia and the community).

Thoughts about QT 5 from Nokia

Posted May 9, 2011 13:44 UTC (Mon) by Hausvib6 (guest, #70606) [Link]

Me too... As Nokia has just announced the outsourcing of Symbian to Accenture, this "developed openly" QT5 sounds like it will be "crowdsourced".

Qt at Nokia is hiring

Posted May 9, 2011 13:54 UTC (Mon) by knuty (subscriber, #43295) [Link]

Nokia are continuing to invest in Qt and the Qt ecosystem. Nokia is ramping up the Qt development in Finland. There are several job openings in Qt at Nokia at other sites. Please consider this blog post

Qt at Nokia is hiring

Posted May 9, 2011 14:13 UTC (Mon) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

Does Nokia require contributors to sign a legal agreement that allows them to use the code under proprietary licenses still?

Qt at Nokia is hiring

Posted May 9, 2011 16:30 UTC (Mon) by milliams (guest, #71641) [Link]

I believe so, yes. But it is _not_ copyright-assignment AFAIK. Thiago Macieira gave a talk at Camp KDE this year on the progress of Open Governance (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knii_Udci24) so I suggest you watch that for conclusive answers.

Qt at Nokia is hiring

Posted May 9, 2011 16:34 UTC (Mon) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

You can grant similar rights without copyright assignment. That doesn't make it less problematic. As long as the requirement for such a legal agreement is in place, I wouldn't really call it a level playing platform for all contributors. I can't think of a single big open source project that requires such legal agreements and has a diverse community of contributors, volunteers and multiple vendors. The other side has obvious examples including Linux kernel, Samba or even GTK.

No copyright assignment. Contributors grant a right to use their copyright

Posted May 9, 2011 18:53 UTC (Mon) by knuty (subscriber, #43295) [Link]

There is no copyright assignment when contributing to Qt. Contributors are keeping their copyright. Qt Development Framework are asking contributors to grant a non-exclusive right to re-use and incorporate the code as a part of Qt, handled by a one-time online click-through the first time developers submit code for inclusion in Qt. To my knowledge, the copyright grant is how contributions can be done under European copyright law.

No, copyright is not obviously handled in other free software projects. There are several examples of reasons for making it absolutely clear on whom are contributing what to a free software project. This to avoid uncertainty and illegitimate copyright claims. Even if a free software projects wins against false claims in the end, such claims are a waist of energy and resources. Groklaw are documenting such invalid claims against free software to the fullest extent. Being prepared on stopping false claims in the first place, not being a top hit on Groklaw, is a good practice. Time is better spent on making free software better than to opening the door for false claims.

Qt is dual licensed. The KDE Free Qt Foundation has a license agreement with Nokia. This agreement ensures that the Qt will continue to be available under both the LGPL 2.1 and the GPL 3. Should Nokia discontinue the development of the Qt Free Edition under these licenses, then the Foundation has the right to release Qt under a BSD-style license or under other open source licenses. The agreement stays valid in case of a buy-out, a merger or bankruptcy.

Richard Stallman who is the founder of Free Software, consider selling exceptions an acceptable thing for a company to do, and he suggests it to be an appropriate way to get programs freed. The KDE Free Qt Foundation agreement ensures that also future Qt versions defaults to free software. Having such agreements in place, might let other software projects rethinking their way of handling copyright - defaulting to free software by agreements - being absolutely clear on that. Not letting doubt being a part of the equation which Grolkaw documents to the fullest extent.

No copyright assignment. Contributors grant a right to use their copyright

Posted May 10, 2011 7:38 UTC (Tue) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

"Qt Development Framework are asking contributors to grant a non-exclusive right to re-use and incorporate the code as a part of Qt, handled by a one-time online click-through the first time developers submit code for inclusion in Qt. To my knowledge, the copyright grant is how contributions can be done under European copyright law."

Nokia requires potential contributors to sign a legal agreement then before accepting their contributions to permit Nokia to sell proprietary licenses of the code they are contributing for free. This is not required by any European copyright law. Nokia can very well accept LGPL as a inbound license and not merely as a outbound license and therefore create the equality they seem to want. Is Nokia promising anything back?

Since you referred to RMS, you might want to read

http://www.fsf.org/blogs/rms/assigning-copyright
http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2010/02/01/copyright-not-all-eq...

"No, copyright is not obviously handled in other free software projects. There are several examples of reasons for making it absolutely clear on whom are contributing what to a free software project. This to avoid uncertainty and illegitimate copyright claims."

Copyright is handled just fine and legal claims can be addressed without any such agreements c.f. BusyBox

No copyright assignment. Contributors grant a right to use their copyright

Posted May 10, 2011 10:10 UTC (Tue) by knuty (subscriber, #43295) [Link]

Not to forget: Thanks for your informative links :) Then the debate.

First: You got an implicit suggestion to impose US copyright law in Europe? You might think such thing is legally easy. Unfortunately it's not. Of course, you are in your full right to have an political opinion on the matter, suggesting something else than the current copyright law. Then you should put your talk into action, follow up with a political suggestion, asking the EU parliament to change the copyright law ... And no, local US laws are not international, each country has their own laws.

Secondly: I understand that you disregard the legal work burden when free software projects get attacked by lawyers and companies not liking free software, labelling GPL as cancer or other FUD like claims. Dealing with uncertainty and false claims is expensive. RedHat and others have come together an but millions of dollars on the table for defending GNU/Linux from future illegitimate claims which might come (or might not). Having your house in order in the first place is a good thing, reducing or even nullifying uncertainty. Norwegians do like to have their house in order before the winter. Instead of being unprepared. I hope that other free projects can learn from that, as RedHat has done with their GNU/Linux defence found putting money aside. We are even better prepared, because everyone has granted right to use their contributions.

Third: I understand you're contributing to Fedrora which is a good thing. Actually I love and respect your effort. But Fedora is mostly a project which re-distributes software made by others, making it easier for RedHat to get free work (as in free beer) to make their excellent server oriented GNU/Linux distribution. The bias lays on what's best for RedHat to get free work, based on thousands of contributors - paid or not. But to be honest, it's not a lot of desktop innovations which is paid by RedHat, even if it's the most successful server distribution on economic merit.

Qt got a different economical balance because it allow unfree software to be made, which enables fully paid engineers, ensuring further Qt development and innovation. RedHat solid income are not used in the same way to ensure development of an excellent application framework - keeping phase with the ground-braking changes we are experiencing today with touch and animations.

Regarding Qt, customers helps finance the development, keeping phase, or even being more innovating regarding users experience compared with proprietary vendors. I can't see that RedHat or Fedora has taken that role, making free software user application development really successful. I guess it's not really an economical incentive to do so. Leaving RedHat/Fedora to be a follower, not a leader on the user experience area. The way Qt does it, is as Robin Hood with a distinct exceptions. Qt get paid from the rich and provide the goods to everyone. We are not steeling. Companies pays, and then we give it away. I think it's a good deal.

No copyright assignment. Contributors grant a right to use their copyright

Posted May 10, 2011 11:35 UTC (Tue) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

I'm sorry, but not very much of this addresses the idea of accepting "LGPL as a[n] inbound license". With all parties required to adhere to those licensing conditions, Nokia (or Digia) could still charge people money for support, enhancements, and so on. My understanding was that the dual-licensing model offered customers the opportunity to keep the lid shut on all the code being shipped at the cost of not being able to modify the libraries licensed from Trolltech/Nokia. With Qt having been LGPL-licensed, the only apparent benefit in a proprietary licence, apart from the support offerings, is not having to provide the library source code if anyone asks, or having to provide the necessary interoperability with the freely-licensed library edition.

However, the discussion isn't really about whether a software project is sustainable without funding from proprietary licence sales. It's about whether people feel comfortable contributing to proprietary software. Many people don't really care about this - they're quite happy to release code under permissive licences, which frequently leads to the same end-result - but copyright assignment and the kind of relicensing agreement seen here introduce a two tier system in software projects.

Some people might regard a compromise in their own licensing as a reasonable price to pay for the momentum, vitality, stability or quality of the project they are contributing to, but recent experience has shown that unequal treatment of contributors tends to put undue stress on communities: the Oracle acquisition of Sun (and the history of open source projects in Sun) can provide a few examples. If the community aspect of a project is important with volunteers bearing the load and making important decisions, then reserving privileges for one party is going to undermine such aspirations. This is especially the case if there is ever disagreement about a project's direction.

I'm sure that someone will point out (yet again) that copyright assignment isn't the same as a relicensing agreement, whether up-front or as a future option, and certainly if you merely accept other licences being applied to your code than the ones you would have chosen yourself without any persuasion or coercion, you at least get to contribute the same code to other projects. That said, I grow increasingly concerned that some companies will start to use patents to prevent code in "their" projects appearing elsewhere. That's another reason why contributor agreements seem to be more popular than accepting contributions as they are already licensed: corporations don't like having their hands tied by contributors when a bit of patent aggression could be practised against others, even those who may be legitimately using the same code.

No copyright assignment. Contributors grant a right to use their copyright

Posted May 10, 2011 11:36 UTC (Tue) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

"First: You got an implicit suggestion to impose US copyright law in Europe?"

I implied no such thing. There is nothing US specific about Free software licenses, especially the latest version of GPL and LGPL have been carefully written to be applicable globally and there are tens of thousands of free software projects from Europe which doesn't require any grants. If you want to show that they are somehow wrong, the burden of proof is on you.

My discussions have nothing whatsoever to do with Fedora and I view this as a misdirection at best but to address your point, Fedora is a distribution and all distributions primarily do integration work but if you talking about Red Hat, they do go far beyond that and yes, that includes desktop components as well.

http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Red_Hat_contributions#Free_...

GNOME Shell, NetworkManager, D-Bus, large amounts of GTK development and the list goes on. Feel free to look up how many of those upstream projects, even ones started by Red Hat and primary funded by even now requires any similar legal agreements.

Qt at Nokia is hiring

Posted May 9, 2011 21:55 UTC (Mon) by djcapelis (subscriber, #53964) [Link]

Blender did this for awhile, actually. Though arguably it had a more interesting history in terms of source code licensing than some projects.

Qt at Nokia is hiring

Posted May 9, 2011 19:15 UTC (Mon) by jku (guest, #42379) [Link]

I'll note that the blog post does not say anything about Nokia ramping up Qt development in Finland. If you have a source for that claim, it might be an interesting read...

Qt at Nokia is hiring

Posted May 11, 2011 6:09 UTC (Wed) by xizzhu (guest, #74842) [Link]

Read this:
http://labs.qt.nokia.com/2011/02/18/buckets-of-cold-water/

In late 2010 we started a new site in Finland which is now our biggest team. Ca 100 engineers were hand-picked from other organizations in Nokia and are now working both on APIs and features for Qt as well as releasing and testing.

Qt at Nokia is hiring

Posted May 11, 2011 12:30 UTC (Wed) by jku (guest, #42379) [Link]

The original comment said "Nokia is ramping up QT development in Finland". That really implies that Nokia is increasing their QT investment in Finland _after_ the latest direction change. That would be awesome but I have to say I'd be surprised...

Thoughts about QT 5 from Nokia

Posted May 11, 2011 13:15 UTC (Wed) by AndreE (guest, #60148) [Link]

What? The ability for the community to pick up the slack when original developers lose interest is one of the GREAT freedoms provided by free software.


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