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A discordant symphony

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By Jonathan Corbet
January 16, 2013
Last May, IBM announced the completion of its long-awaited contribution of the source code for its "Symphony" OpenOffice.org fork to the Apache Software Foundation. More than six months later, there is no freely-licensed version of Symphony available, and some observers, at least, see no evident signs that any such release is in the works. A look at the situation reveals gears that grind slowly indeed, leading to tension that is not helped by some unfortunate bad feelings between rival development projects.

Apache OpenOffice (AOO) and LibreOffice are both forks of the old OpenOffice.org code base. There is not always a great deal of love lost between these two projects, which, with some justification, see themselves as being in direct competition with each other. That situation got a little worse recently when de-facto AOO leader Rob Weir complained about talk in the other camp:

I'm reading FUD, from the usual misinformed suspects, saying that the "IBM donation to AOO is pure marketing fluff" and "IBM faked the donation of the Symphony code" and "IBM did not donate anything". I can certainly sympathize with leaders of communities that can only be held together by irrational fears. It is not easy to maintain that peak level of paranoia.

Rob raised the idea of putting out a corrective blog post, but the project consensus seemed to be to just let things slide. Clearly, though, the AOO developers were unhappy with how the "usual misinformed suspects" were describing their work.

The specific suspect in question is Italo Vignoli, a director of the Document Foundation and spokesperson for the LibreOffice project. His full posting can be found on the LibreOffice marketing list. His main complaint was that the Symphony code remained inaccessible to the world as a whole; IBM, he said, did not donate anything to the community at all. This claim might come as a surprise to the casual observer. A quick search turns up Apache's Symphony page; from there, getting the source is just a matter of a rather less quick 4GB checkout from a Subversion repository. Once one digs a little further, though, the situation becomes a bit less clear.

The Apache Software Foundation releases code under the Apache license; they are, indeed, rather firm on that point. The Symphony repository, though, as checked out from svn.apache.org, contains nearly 3,600 files with the following text:

    * Licensed Materials - Property of IBM.
    * (C) Copyright IBM Corporation 2003, 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

That, of course, is an entirely non-free license header. Interestingly, over 2,000 of those files also have headers indicating that they are distributable under the GNU Lesser General Public License (version 3). These files, in other words, contain conflicting license information but neither case (proprietary or LGPLv3) is consistent with the Apache license. So it would not be entirely surprising to see a bit of confusion over what IBM has really donated.

The conflicting licenses are almost certainly an artifact of how Symphony was developed. IBM purchased the right to take the code proprietary from Sun; when IBM's code was added to existing, LGPLv3-licensed files, the new headers were added without removing the old. Since this code has all been donated to the Foundation, clearing up the confusion should just be a matter of putting in new license headers. But that has not yet happened.

What is going in here is reminiscent of the process seen when AOO first began as an Apache project. Then, too, a pile of code was donated to the Apache Software Foundation, but it did not become available under the Apache license until the first official release happened, quite some time later. In between there unfolded an obscure internal process where the Foundation examined the code, eliminated anything that it couldn't relicense or otherwise had doubts about, and meditated on the situation in general. To an outsider, the "Apache Way" can seem like a bureaucratic way indeed. It is unsurprising to see this process unfold again with a brand new massive corporate code dump.

There is an added twist this time, though. In June, the project considered two options for the handling of the Symphony code dump. One was the "slow merge" where features would be taken one-by-one from the Symphony tree; the alternative was to switch to Symphony as the new code base, then merge newer OpenOffice.org and AOO features in that direction instead. The "slow" path was chosen, and it has proved to be true to its name. Rob noted 167 bug fixes that have found their way into AOO from Symphony, but there do not appear to be any significant features that have made the move at this point.

One assumes that will change over time. The code does exist, the Foundation does have the right to relicense it, and there are developers who, in time, should be able to port the most interesting parts of it and push it through the Apache process. One might wonder why almost none of that work appears to be happening. If the project was willing to do the work to rebase entirely on top of the Symphony code, it must have thought that some significant resources were available. What are those resources doing instead?

Rob's mention of "larger pieces that will be merged in branches first" points at one possible answer: that work is being done, we just aren't allowed to see it yet. Given the way the AOO and LibreOffice projects view each other, and given that the Apache license gives LibreOffice the right to incorporate AOO code, it would not be surprising to see AOO developers working to defer the release of this code under their license for as long as possible. It would be embarrassing for LibreOffice to show up with Symphony features first, after all.

On the other side, it is not at all hard to imagine that some LibreOffice developers would be happy to embarrass AOO in just that way. Their complaint is not that IBM did not donate the code; what really makes them unhappy is that LibreOffice cannot take that code and run with it yet. It must certainly be frustrating to see useful code languish because the AOO project and the Apache Software Foundation are taking their time in getting around to putting it under the intended license. But IBM chose a channel for the release of this code that puts its ultimate fate under the control of those entities; there is little to be done to change that.

Competition between software projects is not necessarily a bad thing; it can motivate development and enable the exploration of different approaches to a problem. Thus far, it is not clear that the rivalry between AOO and LibreOffice has achieved any of that. Instead, it seems to create duplication of work and inter-project hostility. The grumbling over the Symphony source, which, meanwhile, sits unused by anybody seems like another example of that dynamic. With luck, the AOO developers will find a way to release the bulk of Symphony as free software, but one should not expect it to happen in a hurry.


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A discordant symphony

Posted Jan 16, 2013 21:54 UTC (Wed) by josh (subscriber, #17465) [Link]

> That, of course, is an entirely non-free license header. Interestingly, over 2,000 of those files also have headers indicating that they are distributable under the GNU Lesser General Public License (version 3). These files, in other words, contain conflicting license information

"All Rights Reserved" is just old-style copyright boilerplate; it doesn't conflict with an Open Source license.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 16, 2013 21:57 UTC (Wed) by corbet (editor, #1) [Link]

Hmm...what does "all rights reserved" mean if not that, well, all rights have been reserved? I'm sorry, but I don't see how an IBM copyright notice saying "all rights reserved" can fail to conflict with a Sun copyright saying otherwise.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 16, 2013 21:59 UTC (Wed) by corbet (editor, #1) [Link]

FWIW: Wikipedia agrees with me: "It indicates that the copyright holder reserves, or holds for their own use, all the rights provided by copyright law, such as distribution, performance, and creation of derivative works; that is, they have not waived any such right." If it's on Wikipedia, it must be true...

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 16, 2013 22:18 UTC (Wed) by josh (subscriber, #17465) [Link]

It says they haven't *waived* any such right; you have to have the rights in order to license them.

Read the rest of that article: it originated as a boilerplate phrase that had similar legal significance to the "Copyright YYYY Author Name" part. Writing "All Rights Reserved" doesn't contradict a subsequent FOSS license any more than the "Copyright YYYY Author Name" part does.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 16, 2013 22:36 UTC (Wed) by corbet (editor, #1) [Link]

Licensing is a form of waiving some rights, no?

Seems like we need one of our occasional lawyer readers to chime in here. But, in any case, IBM has claimed ownership of the code in the files and has added nothing saying that its code has been licensed to anybody. I wouldn't want to try to distribute it without some further assurance.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 16, 2013 22:46 UTC (Wed) by juliank (subscriber, #45896) [Link]

Without "all rights reserved", your work was basically public domain, and you were not able to license it the way you wanted to (because you did not reserve those rights, you could not license them).

When all members signed the Berne Convention, "All rights reserved" became totally useless, all that is practically the default mode for any work under the Berne Convention.

Of course, if there is no license statement, then IBM may not have provided you any license at all.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 22:49 UTC (Thu) by simosx (subscriber, #24338) [Link]

It is sad that it is not common knowledge what juliank just said.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 11:21 UTC (Thu) by keeperofdakeys (subscriber, #82635) [Link]

Licensing a work doesn't take any rights away from the owner, it just gives a set of rights to someone else for (effectively) a copy of that work. This is why works can be dual-licensed, since the license only applies to a specific copy.

I'm not sure what conditions IBM gave to Apache for the code, but since it was a private affair, involving the owner of the work, license terms have no meaning.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 20, 2013 2:18 UTC (Sun) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

Licensing a work doesn't take any rights away from the owner, it just gives a set of rights to someone else for (effectively) a copy of that work.

Copyright is the right to stop someone else from making a copy. If a copyright holder licenses someone to make a copy, the copyright owner no longer has the right to stop that person from making a copy. So licensing does indeed take away rights from the licensor.

It's true that a license need not give up all rights under copyright. The licensor might retain the right to stop someone else from copying, which is why a second license might be possible.

Incidentally, a typical copyright license does not give any rights to the licensee, in the strict legal sense of the word "right." A legal right is the power of a person to control another person. What the licensee gains is a "privilege."

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 15:23 UTC (Thu) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

The contribution to Apache is made via a Software Grant Agreement, with the terms described in this form:

http://www.apache.org/licenses/cla-corporate.txt

When we talk about someone contributing something to Apache under an SGA it means they signed and submitted that form. Remember, this is the same process that Oracle used when submitting OpenOffice to Apache. The SGA is the legal contribution.

You're missing the forest for the trees if you are fixated on file headers.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 15:50 UTC (Thu) by mjw (subscriber, #16740) [Link]

> You're missing the forest for the trees if you are fixated on file headers.

But even other Apache hackers don't want or can edit those files currently because IBM seems to refuse to correct the headers:
https://mail-archives.apache.org/mod_mbox/openoffice-dev/...

And it seems ASF policy is (reasonably) only the copyright holder may change the license headers on files:
https://www.apache.org/legal/src-headers.html#faq-moveoth...

And others have commented that the current situation is so murky that it is really hard to see who has rights to hack on and redistribute which files. So effectively nobody but IBM employees can work on this code even though technically it has been "donated" to Apache. Would it really be that hard to get IBM to fix that? Just like Oracle eventually fixed the headers for the original openoffice.org source files. It would mean a lot more people can actually hack on it and get more of the code in the hands of end users sooner. Thanks.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 16:14 UTC (Thu) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

>But even other Apache hackers don't want or can edit those files currently >because IBM seems to refuse to correct the headers:

Confusion is not limited to Lwn.net, clearly. But I hope my comments have clarified the state of these files.

If anyone really wants to help integrate these files, then post a note to dev@openoffice.apache.org and introduce yourself. I'll be more than happy to give you some hints and hopefully remove any doubts you might have.

But I'll be honest, so far all I've heard so far is complaints from non-lawyers and non-coders who are not interested in helping with the project. They tend not to get a lot of my time.

-Rob

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 21, 2013 8:14 UTC (Mon) by ceplm (subscriber, #41334) [Link]

I would say that releasing source code under conflicting licenses and not fixing the headers when reminded about it seems to me like a classic case of spreading Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt about the legal status among potential users (e.g., LO developers). Don’t they have sed(1) in IBM?

Matěj Cepl

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 21, 2013 14:15 UTC (Mon) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Actually, we are "fixing the headers" as we merge the code into OpenOffice. That is how we will be publishing these features. We won't publish a release containing Symphony code until that is done. The code we release is extensively reviewed and the licenses and notices carefully documented. That is part of the value-add that Apache releases are known for.

Your complaint seems to be that we're merging the Symphony code into OpenOffice rather than releasing it as-is. As stated before, the community considered both options but decided to do the merge approach. This is not FUD. This was done out of careful consideration of the benefits and liabilities of either approach. The discussion was held in public, on our mailing lists, which you are free to examine at your leisure.

Regards,

-Rob

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 21, 2013 14:38 UTC (Mon) by ceplm (subscriber, #41334) [Link]

> Your complaint seems to be that we're merging the Symphony code into OpenOffice rather than releasing it as-is. As stated before, the community considered both options but decided to do the merge approach.

No, it isn't my complaint ... what I would prefer would be to release Symphony (or parts which you want to release) as it is, unmerged, unrebased, raw, uncompiliable (if it happens), with bugs, smell and everything (but with copyright statements corrected ... see my comments about Perl scripting of that). You would have a nice precedent with open sourcing of Java by Sun (which was not compilable in the beginning, if you recall the history).

We are adults here and we can understand what does releasing of parts of the code means. Programmers are usually pretty good in fixing, patching, rebasing etc. and community of them can do it better than a closed group under adult supervision ... that’s kind of the point of the open source development, isn’t it?

Thank you for replying

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 21, 2013 15:28 UTC (Mon) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

What makes you think the existing copyright statements are incorrect? I don't see any error. Remember, an SGA does not reassign copyright. It provides a license.

-Rob

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 21, 2013 16:01 UTC (Mon) by mjw (subscriber, #16740) [Link]

You are talking past each other.

The question was for *IBM* to update the license headers of the files since they are the copyright holder and claim to have granted a license. The answer was that the *Apache* project decided not to change the license headers for now even though they believe they have a grant from IBM to do so.

It would probably help to be explicit whether a question is asked of Rob/IBM and/or if an answer is given by Apache/Rob.

The original article (and a lot of the comments here) contain confusion about whether or not IBM actually donated the code or not. Part of that confusion comes from whether or not Apache accepted it or not. The current situation of confusing/wrong license headers on the "contributed" files doesn't help make that situation very clear. The answer would be immediately clear if IBM just clarifies the issue by cleaning up the headers. Or hopefully Matthews poking will help make clear whether the files as is can be seen as already under the Apache license because of the SGA and being distributed by the ASF and who can update/clean up the headers to give everybody the warm fuzzy feeling that a contribution was actually made and available as Free Software to all users.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 18, 2013 13:02 UTC (Fri) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

And others have commented that the current situation is so murky that it is really hard to see who has rights to hack on and redistribute which files.
That is a pity. I think (IANALly) that the files have clearly been donated by IBM under the ASL, and that the contents of individual headers is not relevant since there is an overarching permission.

A real world analogy: imagine that I sign a contract to sell you a pile of my books, but then you refuse to take them because some books have "property of man_ls" written in the first page, until I erase that line from all of them. Hey, the books are now legally yours; feel free to modify them as you see fit.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 18, 2013 14:52 UTC (Fri) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

Nice analogy! One thing that has to be considered is that statements of ownership are easily disregarded if everyone involved knows about agreements to the contrary, but the real problem is where people who are not aware of (or party to) such agreements see such statements and are then thrown into confusion about the real status of the work in question.

It would be a bit like someone pulling a book of the shelf in the aforementioned purchaser's house, having been told by the purchaser to "take any of my books if you like them", and then reading the "property of man_ls" statement. One would be obliged to check once again with the purchaser or potential owner to make sure that the book is not one that has been borrowed and then mixed up with the rest of the purchaser's collection.

Such manual checking that everything is still legal or acceptable is precisely the kind of thing that conflicts with Free Software licences because one of the aims of such licences is to eliminate such bureaucratic obstacles, especially when they can be misused to effectively limit distribution even if grand promises of generosity have been made.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 18, 2013 14:55 UTC (Fri) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

Your comment is completely on target. Just wanted to say.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 16:01 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

So the Apache Software Foundation has the right to relicense these files under a free license, it just hasn't chosen to do so yet?

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 16:20 UTC (Thu) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

There is no plan to release that code as-is. The plan is to merge Symphony features into the trunk, starting with Apache OpenOffice 4.0. The license headers get cleaned up naturally as part of the merge process.

Then, when 4.0 is ready for release, it will go through the standard release reviews and a vote, and when it is released, users and downstream consumers can be confident it meets the high standards we place upon releases.

But those who poke at unreleased code will likely find all sorts of issues, including bugs, discordant headers, performance or security issues, incomplete translations, etc. That is the nature of unreleased code.

-Rob

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 16:23 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

So the ASF has the right to release a pile of code under a free license, but is choosing not to do so until parts of it are integrated into 4.0? What if others wish to make use of bits of the code that you have no interest in?

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 16:45 UTC (Thu) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

IANAL, but I don't see any issues here.

Start with the terms of the SGA as stated here:

http://www.apache.org/licenses/cla-corporate.txt

Then look at the README file in the root of the contributed code:

https://svn.apache.org/repos/asf/openoffice/symphony/trun...

As stated there, the license headers clue you in on which specific files were contributed under the SGA. Ironically, the same text that some are expressing so much angst about is the same text that allows anyone to see what the contribution is. Go figure.

If it is not clear whether the code is suitable for your particular use, then it is your responsibility to get competent advice. But all the data you need is right there.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 16:54 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

IAANAL, but the SGA has:

"Grant of Copyright License. Subject to the terms and conditions
of this Agreement, You hereby grant to the Foundation and to
recipients of software distributed by the Foundation a perpetual,
worldwide, non-exclusive, no-charge, royalty-free, irrevocable
copyright license to reproduce, prepare derivative works of,
publicly display, publicly perform, sublicense, and distribute
Your Contributions and such derivative works."

That's fine as long as the Foundation is distributing the work, but from another comment by you:

"These files have not been published by Apache"

which leaves open the question of what distribution actually is in this case - I'd have thought that having the code in svn would count as distribution, but I'd also have thought it counted as publishing. It'd be straightforward for the ASF to make the situation completely unambiguous.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 17:18 UTC (Thu) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

The terms of the SGA are exactly what they say. I cannot add or subtract a word of it. All I can do is point you to it.

Generally, an SGA gives sufficient rights for project members to work on the code and prepare it for release. If you want to help with that then we'd welcome your help. Send a note to dev@openoffice.apache.org and introduce yourself. However, if your needs require code only after it has been reviewed, tested, and voted on as an Apache release, then I'll be equally happy to hear from you then.

-Rob

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 17:25 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

Why would the ASF be unwilling to unambiguously state that the software is available under an open source license?

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 17:42 UTC (Thu) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

>Why would the ASF be unwilling to unambiguously state that the software is available under an open source license?

If you have a question for the ASF, then why don't you ask them? They have a legal discussion mailing list where you are free to ask them about what an SGA means. But I do know that they value transparency and would probably not be keen on answering questions on pay-walled websites from anonymous posters.

http://www.apache.org/foundation/mailinglists.html#founda...

Regards,

-Rob

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 17:46 UTC (Thu) by malor (guest, #2973) [Link]

Boy, you just never miss a chance to snipe at your critics, do you?

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 17:57 UTC (Thu) by dashesy (guest, #74652) [Link]

It is hard to believe you do not know the above poster, nor his contributions to the community, or good will in asking the question.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 20:53 UTC (Thu) by jubal (subscriber, #67202) [Link]

Were you always such a darling, or it's only the last few years that made you so unpleasant a person?

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 21, 2013 8:20 UTC (Mon) by ceplm (subscriber, #41334) [Link]

Which seems to describe to me rather precisely what Italo Vignoli wrote: IBM hasn't released to the open source universe basically anything and it is (so far) a pure marketing fluff.

Matěj

All rights reserved

Posted Feb 1, 2013 1:03 UTC (Fri) by mema (guest, #89121) [Link]

Well, it seems to me that some people basically want to complain about both IBM and Apache OpenOffice, mainly because of their own political leanings.

The donation of the Symphony code to Apache was noted both by IBM, Apache, and even Meeks at his blog.

Since when is a donation, nothing? Only when IBM does it and its not under the GPL?

All rights reserved

Posted Feb 3, 2013 21:26 UTC (Sun) by ceplm (subscriber, #41334) [Link]

Just to say: I have personally absolutely nothing against Apache Foundation (my server runs Apache httpd and I am quite with that, a lot of my colleagues work with various Apache Foundation related projects quite happily), nor I have anything against Apache license (all my code is licensed under MIT/X11, if I can help it).

My problem is with the people kind-of-relasing code under uncertain situation and not willing to clear it up. I cannot help myself but to feel that there is some attempt to keep the copyright status unclear so that the codebase they have no control over cannot profit from their code. Which seems to me to be against the spirit of all open source movement stands for. Just to be completely clear, and I am very much hoping I am wrong in my feelings, and the situation will settle quite quickly.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 17:33 UTC (Thu) by mjw (subscriber, #16740) [Link]

Yes, the ASF says that only the company that contributed the files originally can replace the license headers of the files granted and IBM seems uninterested to do that unless a specific file is incorporated in an official release. They don't want to do that for the contribution as a whole.

For the original files contributed by Oracle this took a very long time to sort through all the files by an Oracle employee to double check Oracle really had the right to do that for all the files mentioned in the software grant and/or had to ask to have additional files added to the grant. Only IBM knows how much work that really would be for the symphony files.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 17:46 UTC (Thu) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

>only the company that contributed the files originally can replace the license headers of the files granted

That is a policy statement, not a legal statement.

This is an important distinction. For example, an Apache project can not release software containing GPL code. That is a policy requirement. But legally, anyone else, outside of Apache, is free to mix ALv2 and GPL code together, if that suits their needs. The licenses are compatible in that way.

You should not confuse the stricter policy requirements incumbent on an Apache project versus what the license permits any random person to do.

-Rob

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 17:52 UTC (Thu) by malor (guest, #2973) [Link]

But the license has been granted from IBM to Apache, not to us. Unless and until Apache explicitly adds a specific grant of license to us, we're just eavesdroppers, with no rights to modify or distribute.

It doesn't have to be in every header; a simple document, just like IBM's, would be enough. Something along the lines of "This code is released to the general public under the terms of the Apache License v2", or whatever language you guys actually like to use.

Unless and until you explicitly release the code, it sure looks to me that IBM has given it to you, but not to us. I see no clear chain of permissions that would allow me to change and share that code freely.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 17:55 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

"But the license has been granted from IBM to Apache, not to us."

Well, kind of. Part of that license is a grant of permissions to anyone to whom that software is distributed by Apache. The question is what the precise meaning of "distribute" is in this case - we've already had an assertion that the code in question hasn't been published by Apache. In any case, Rob's right that this isn't the right venue for an authoritative answer, and so I've mailed the appropriate mailing list.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 18, 2013 18:26 UTC (Fri) by vonbrand (guest, #4458) [Link]

Surely you have a tame Perl hacker at hand, who can code up a global search & replace on the files? If they belong to Apache now, there is no legal problem in stripping/adding/updating the copyright headers. And the interested parties are grown up people (even if the recurrent flamew^Wdiscussions seem to belie that) who know what they are getting into when digging into a code drop.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 18, 2013 18:37 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Is there anything that prevents you from downloading, changing headers and putting on github?

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 23, 2013 20:03 UTC (Wed) by malor (guest, #2973) [Link]

Not having legal rights to do so, I imagine.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 20:20 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

At Rob's suggestion, I raised this on the appropriate Apache list (http://mail-archives.apache.org/mod_mbox/www-legal-discus... ). The situation appears to be that any code submitted under an SGA is effectively under terms equivalent to the Apache license 2.0, but it's not guaranteed that all code in a repository is covered by the SGA. In the Symphony case, https://svn.apache.org/repos/asf/openoffice/symphony/trun... describes the state of affairs - some of the code is owned by third parties, but all third party code is believed to be under an open source license. The rest should be code covered by IBM's SGA and, as such, should be freely usable by others.

The only real risk I can see is the potential for the README not to reflect the SGA that was actually signed. Unfortunately the SGAs are not made publicly available, and so there's a chance that the code provided in the repository does not reflect the code that IBM agreed to license and verifying that is difficult.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 20:43 UTC (Thu) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

And not to bludgeon a dead horse more than necessary, the same "all rights reserved" text that so many here were bitching about is the precise text that the README says is used to indicate which files are covered by the SGA. So the text that so many were whining about, saying it prevented them from using the code, is actually the text that tells them they can use the code.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 20:49 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

It's reasonable to be paranoid when there's a disparity between the intended license of code and what the file actually claims. The ASF have the assignment details and the legal right to make the licensing unambiguous, but it's difficult for third parties to do the same without being able to see what was actually agreed. I understand that doing so wouldn't make anything easier for the ASF, but it would be a benefit to the wider community.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 21:10 UTC (Thu) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

The README file is in the frick'n root directory, and the SGA terms are on the web. It took you all of what, 3 minutes to put 1 and 1 together and get 2. This is not rocket science. All someone had to do is read what was already there, in plain view.

Paranoia is one thing. Refusal to even look around at easily available facts, or send questions to Apache for a quick confirmation, is pathetic.

Congratulations for being the first one to attain this august level of legal research and deductive logic. This level of accomplishment apparently is out of reach for the typical Lwn.net author or commenter.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 21:17 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

I'd happily use code with a clear license header without consulting a lawyer. I wouldn't use code with no useful license header, a README that refers to yet another legal agreement which may or may not be the one you've referred to, and no public copy of the legal agreement that was actually signed until I had significantly more information. The ASF could easily avoid this kind of situation from arising, and I have no idea why you're so resistant to the idea of ensuring that code you're distributing is under a clear and unambiguous license.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 21:30 UTC (Thu) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

We are cleaning up the license headers as we merge it into OpenOffice. When that is done, and we've gone through our release reviews, the code will be (hopefully) impeccable with respect to license clarity. It is something we take pride in, as you can see by the detailed review with did with Apache OpenOffice 3.4.

I don't see why you are so resistant to acknowledging that a volunteer-led project will work on what it considers to be its priorities and do so on its timetable. We do not take orders from random bystanders. Sorry, that's not how it works. Your impatience is irrelevant to me. Help if you want. Complain if you want. But your worth is not decided by your complaining.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 21:48 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

You appear to be agreeing that the licensing situation is unclear and will remain so until you've finished reviewing it, but disagree with an article that pretty much says the same thing? The ASF chose to take on the role of stewardship of this code, it wasn't obliged to. You now have a choice - manage it for your own benefit, or manage it for the benefit of other projects as well. So far the Apache OpenOffice project hasn't done a good job of convincing people that it's worried about anything other than its own releases. This would be an opportunity to demonstrate that you do.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 22:07 UTC (Thu) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

The licensing, at least in the large, is not the least bit unclear to me. And neither does it appear to be to you since you summarized it earlier. But the file by file examination, as part of an Apache release, has great value.

What you fail to understand, or at least appreciate, and by failing to understand this entirely miss the Big Picture about Apache, is that our releases are the way we benefit other projects. It is the scrutiny and review we give to code, as part of our pre-release reviews, that make it much safer for others to use. Our releases procedures are focused on preparing source distributions that others can use, to build derived products from. We carefully review file headers, produce aggregated LICENSE and NOTICE files, carefully verify that we can build from our source tarballs, etc. Our due diligence reduces risk and raises the comfort level that others have in using the code. That's what Apache does. We don't just slap an Apache License on things, hold our nose and toss it over the wall.

You seem to acknowledge this when you express impatience that we have not done this further review work already. LibreOffice acknowledges this when they merge in code form our releases and rebase their entire product on the released Apache code.

As for your assertion that the "ASF chose to take on the role of stewardship of this code". You are in error there. There has been no vote on this. SGA contributions do not require a vote. A release requires a vote. That is when we make the greater claims, as I have explained at greater length previously.

As for this article, the inaccuracies are legion, and I've rebutted several of them in another comment. But life is too short to waste time with a pedantic correction of every error.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 22:32 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

The repository contains a README that contradicts the licensing information on the files themselves. The README then refers to a separate document that describes the actual terms, without making it explicit that it's referring to the standard Apache SGA (although I accept that that's the obvious conclusion). However, it then tells the reader to refer to an unavailable document for further information. It's reasonable for someone to assume that the files are under a license that permits the creation and distribution of derivative works, but it's also reasonable for someone to want some degree of certainty rather than relying on assumptions.

The SGA places conditions on the ASF, so I'm sceptical that it can be in effect without explicit agreement on the part of the ASF. I'm assuming that writing a significant body of racist invective, dropping it into a C file and then sending it to apache.org along with a signed SGA would not result in it automatically appearing in a subversion repository. You chose to accept this code, and in doing so you accepted that you would be taking responsibility for it.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 22:48 UTC (Thu) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

You used the term "stewardship" before. That is quite a different thing than hosting in SVN under the good faith belief that we have a sufficient license to host such files, but not yet having done sufficient review to include it in a vetted release.

So you are equivocating, redefining terms in an attempt to rescue a failed argument and apparently proceeding without any aim other than to argue. That is a sign that it is time to end this pointless discussion.

As always, anyone with a serious interest in Apache OpenOffice can find our mailing lists and ask questions there. Those who wish to speculate without facts, exhibit paranoid delusions, or pontificate about what other volunteers should be doing will find pleasant company here on Lwn.net Or just wait until next week for Slashdot. It's cheaper.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 22:56 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

So you'd accept my racist screeds, providing they have an appropriate permission grant? That seems unlikely.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 23:17 UTC (Thu) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Well, I'm not personally familiar with your racist screeds, but I can say that with the OpenOffice and Symphony SGA's, we (Apache OpenOffice) did absolutely no review of the code before checking it in. None. We didn't verify that it compiled. We didn't verify that it ran. We didn't verify that it lacked known security flaws. We didn't verify licenses. The code from an SGA is raw and unreviewed.

So if you put a "racist screed" in a C file (or preferable C++) and hid it within an SGA contribution, it could get into SVN. But as soon as it was found, it would be removed.

And if we found a Microsoft-owned header file in the contribution, then that would be removed.

And if we found a functional error then that would be fixed.

And if we found a security flaw, then that would be fixed.

And if a license header was wrong, then that would be removed.

This is all done as part of making an Apache release. This is all done openly, transparently on our mailing lists. (Subversion commit messages are echoed to a public mailing list).

When you think of it, how else would you transparently review, within a community, a software contribution, unless you first put it into a public repository where everyone could view it?

Regards,

-Rob

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 23:24 UTC (Thu) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

So this sounds like you are confirming the view that the license on the Symphony code is unknown at this point. Nobody knows for sure what code is under what license because you have not reviewed it.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 23:33 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

There's two questions. The first is whether or not a liberal license has been granted for this code - the likely answer is "yes", but that includes assuming that the "more information" contained in the unavailable SGA doesn't contain any additional restrictions. The second is whether that liberal license was legitimately granted, and that involves reviewing the code to make sure that nothing owned by a third party was accidentally submitted. The article is more concerned about the first question, while Rob is more concerned about the second.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 3:48 UTC (Fri) by shmget (subscriber, #58347) [Link]

"while Rob is more concerned about the second."

Rob Weir being an IBM employee, working in the division that developed Symphony, is very aware about what the Symphony code base contain... Heck, surely IBM use source control internally, and surely know exactly while line come from Sun, which come from IBM and which come from 3rd party...

But Rob also is in charge of building an eco-system of volunteer to support IBM effort to take control of OpenOffice.org.
So he came up with a new twist on the so-called 'liberal license'... sure once you have it you can keep your modifications for yourself and distribute then under the term you want (non-copyleft)... but in order to achieve that you must come and work for Rob to integrate the piece you want into Rob's project of choice, before you can consider using that code for your own purpose...

Hey, why not ? it is a trick as good as another to try to 'attract' contributors... I'm learning every day about 'The Apache Way'.

====

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
Upton Sinclair -
I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked (1935)

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 4:42 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

I've said no such thing. If you want to take the code, take it. The SGA license has been explained by me, by Matt, and also today on the Apache legal-discuss mailing list. But since this code as not been reviewed you take it at your own risk.

If you want a fully reviewed code base, then you'll need to wait for an official release containing that code. But no one is forcing you to wait for the release.

And if you think the wait is too long for your purposes then you are welcome to help us integrate it. But no one is forcing you to do that. You can always just take the un-reviewed code as is. Or wait for a release.

So the choice is really yours.

What you cannot do, at least not with any respect or credibility, is refuse to take the code as-is, refuse to help integrate it, and just whine about it endlessly.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 20:26 UTC (Fri) by rahvin (subscriber, #16953) [Link]

So correct me where I'm wrong.

There is code in the SVN which may or may not be available under an open license. No on can know whether this code is open until and after Apache has reviewed the code, confirmed and voted that it is freely available. Otherwise you are at your own risk on whether it's freely available and because the official signed agreement (and any containing provisions) is not available well you are going to be pretty much guessing. (this is the first post out of more than a dozen in which you've freely admitted this after berating people on how simple it is)

This [code review] process will not be completed until and after the code has been inserted into the working Apache OO.org code, anything not deemed "worthy" of the Apache OO.org codebase will not be processed at this time and could in the future become lost code. (you have no intent to review or ascertain ownership of any code you don't use in the Apache OO.org codebase).

Not only that, but Apache will not help anyone sort out confusion on any piece of code unless that code follows the above process and is merged into Apache OO.org codebase first.

The only way for Apache to confirm any piece of code is actually under it's stewardship is for that code to end up in Apache OO.org.

Finally, Even if volunteers only wanted to help sort ownership of the SVN code and NOT integrate it into Apache OO.org they would be refused as the only help being asked for and accepted is to integrate into the Apache codebase. Apache will provide no assistance in ascertaining ownership of any code which is not used in Apache OO.org codebase.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 20:55 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

If you have a question for Apache, ask it at Apache. As I've said before, we work openly and transparently on our mailing lists, not behind paywalls. I'm probably the exception, in that I am willing to pay extra for an Lwn.net subscription, so I can read my FUD a week in advance.

-Rob

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 21:01 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

And I should also remind you that use of open source is *always* at your own risk. This is true of every project and every open source license.

So your choice is really whether waiting for an Apache release, with the additional review we put into it is important to you. Many of our users feel that this is indeed important to them.

In fact, I'd say that LibreOffice also agrees on this, since they waited for the Oracle contribution of OpenOffice to be reviewed and approved by us before rebasing their product on it. So their confidence in changing the project's license from LGPL to MPL was only possible because of the careful review we did on the OpenOffice contribution.

But if you don't feel that the benefits of that extra review is worth the wait then don't wait. But also don't cry about it.

-Rob

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 23:33 UTC (Thu) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

It is dangerous to speak in absolutes. You have increasing confidence in your rights to use material the more you review it, or the more someone else whom you trust reviews it. But you never have certainty. Anyone who says they do is a fool. It is not about absolutes. It is about risk management.

Since the SGA is provided by someone asserting that they are providing a certain set of rights, then the risk of hosting the code is very low. Similarly, Lwn.net can host your comments, and mine, without first checking for copyright infringement, because as part of your account setup you asserted that you would not post infringing material.

With unreleased code, your confidence must be based on your own review. That doesn't make it unknowable. It just means that it is your responsibility.

For released code, Apache projects do extensive review, and you can choose to accept (or not) that due diligence as sufficient for your needs. We do this transparently on our mailing lists and we have a reputation for getting it right. That is part of the value we add.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 23:24 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

No, the hypothetical is if it *is* my SGA contribution, clearly marked as a racist screed and with no other value. Would you accept it? No. It doesn't align with the Foundation's values or aims. But Symphony does, and so you chose to accept it and the responsibility for turning it into a usable project.

You're behaving as if code has no value until it's been through the Apache release process. Going through that process undeniably adds value, but it's potentially useful to others even without that. IBM provided a grant of permissions to a body of code - it would take very little time for you to explicitly pass on that grant (including appropriate disclaimers), and in the process you would make it much easier for others to make use of the code in advance of it working its way through your release process. Does that really seem like an unreasonable request?

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 23:47 UTC (Thu) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Your conclusion does not remotely follow. The fact that code was checked into Subversion puts absolutely no obligation on anyone to do anything with it. For you to say that anyone has a "responsibility for turning it into a usable project", just because it was offered to the project is absurd.

In fact, there were concerns expressed by LibreOffice at the time we made the contribution, that if we contributed it, that we would force it down Apache's throat and replace OpenOffice with Symphony. But that is not how it works. We provided the Symphony source. It was put in a separate directory, segregated from the OpenOffice source. And then we discussed, openly and transparently what to do with it. The community -- not IBM -- decided it would be best to selectively merge in enhancements from Symphony into OpenOffice, and that is what we are doing.

Now you can say that the code might be "potentially useful to others" if we made a different choice. Perhaps. But I can also say that it will be very useful to millions based on the direction we agreed on, as a community, to make. But in the end, the decision is made by the volunteers who do the work, not by complaining bystanders.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 23:52 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

Not because it was offered. Because ASF accepted. Only ASF has the details of the SGA, and only ASF is in a position to provide the licensing clarity. You've already said that you think the intended licensing is sufficiently clear. Others disagree. Why not make it explicit enough that they've got nothing to complain about?

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 0:14 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Again, we will fully review the code we release, before we release. This includes license review.

Your main complaint seems to be with a project decision not to release the Symphony contribution itself as an Apache product. But that was the consensus of the project. The decision was to merge it into OpenOffice.

But here's an idea. If you really want to see an Apache project based on Symphony, then you can make a proposal for that, to the Apache Incubator project. Propose a new project, based on that source code, and find volunteers to help you work on it. More experienced Apache members will help you understand the requirements for reviewing the code and getting fully in conformance with Apache release requirements. If you get the equivalent of 5 or 6 full time engineers working on it then you can probably do it in 2 or 3 months.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 0:20 UTC (Fri) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

Uh. No. I just think that files you distribute should have an explicit statement regarding the rights the submitter intended to grant. I don't expect you to put time or effort into making it build or verifying that the licensing is correct or fixing bugs - there's no reason at all for you to do that for sections of code that you have no interest in, and it would be unreasonable for people to demand that of you. If IBM's intent was for the code to be available under a liberal license, just explicitly say so rather than referring to a document that isn't available to the public.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 0:27 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

And again, that will occur before any code is released.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 0:33 UTC (Fri) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

We're still clearly speaking at cross purposes. You're talking about a full IP review. I'm talking about the license that you've asserted is already clearly attached to the code, an assertion that others disagree with. If you believe that the code is (barring errors on the part of IBM or other third parties) already available under liberal licensing terms, why not make that absolutely clear in the repository?

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 0:44 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

You've already received a reply to this on the Apache legal-discuss list. SGA's are made available for inspection to Apache Members, but are not made public. Again, the main purpose of SGA'ed code is for the project make use if it in a release. The process and the paper trail was not designed for someone who wants to immediately fork the code.

To your other point, if someone wants a favor from IBM then I suspect that a courteous, well-reasoned request to an IBM email address might get greater consideration then rude sniping and demands via comments. Just saying.

Regards,

-Rob

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 1:05 UTC (Fri) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

Right, which means that Jon's comments about the licensing being unclear were justified. There's no way for an external developer to verify the license state. The README you keep referring to explicitly instructs the reader to refer to an unavailable document for further information. For many practical purposes, the code is not available under an open license and won't be until it's merged into AOO - and even then, if there are features you're uninterested in (either because they're too niche to be worth supporting, or duplicate other existing functionality or whatever) that code may never be available under an explicitly free license.

But ok. Let's put this another way. If I provided a patch that added a new document to the top level of the symphony svn tree, containing a list of files that the existing README implied were available under liberal terms and explicitly indicating that (barring accidental inclusion of third party code) these files could be redistributed under those terms, could that be merged?

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 1:30 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

If you think you can determine what that file list is from the information provided, then that demonstrates that the list is redundant and any doubt expressed is feigned.

But if that is the root cause of your confusion, then I'll look into providing that list in Subversion.

OK?

-Rob

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 1:34 UTC (Fri) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

If I can then it's an easy way for me to actually do something that I think would be helpful rather than arguing online, and if I can't then Jon was right on this point. But yes, I think supplying that list would be a great thing for you to do. Licensing clarity is always helpful.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 15:33 UTC (Fri) by malor (guest, #2973) [Link]

The process and the paper trail was not designed for someone who wants to immediately fork the code.

Ah, we finally get the explicit admission that this is being made difficult on purpose.

All you guys need to do is stick a README file in that directory, explicitly transferring the rights you have to it, to the rest of the community. You consistently refuse to understand this, professing ignorance, but the quoted sentence is the real reason.... you're actively uninterested in making life any easier for the competition.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 15:47 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Actually, we're very interesting in making things easier for downstream consumers.

Downstream consumers of our code will benefit greater, after our source distributions have been carefully reviewed, voted on and released. That is how Apache works. We're not interested in slapping our license and brand on code, flipping it or acting as money launderers for the open source community. When we release code it means something.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 23, 2013 19:42 UTC (Wed) by juliank (subscriber, #45896) [Link]

Nobody cares about releases.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 23, 2013 20:01 UTC (Wed) by malor (guest, #2973) [Link]

We're not interested in slapping our license and brand on code, flipping it or acting as money launderers for the open source community.

In other words, you're going to keep it to yourself as long as you possibly can, to try to damage LibreOffice. A simple README transferring your rights to the broader community would shut everyone up, but you refuse to do that, because you want the competitive advantage. And you're saying so, right here, a second time.

After your posts here, I think a lot less, a LOT less, of the Apache Foundation.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 23, 2013 23:28 UTC (Wed) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

That's a fine conspiracy theory you have there. But one problem:

No LibreOffice programmer has expressed interest in using this code, has said they lack permissions to use the code, or has even come to our mailing list to ask for clarification about what the license on these files is.

Please send me a link if you believe I am in error.

No one from Apache has ever said that the "broader community" does not have rights to use these files.

Please send me a link if you believe I am in error.

Regards,

-Rob

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 24, 2013 16:35 UTC (Thu) by malor (guest, #2973) [Link]

No LibreOffice programmer has expressed interest in using this code, has said they lack permissions to use the code, or has even come to our mailing list to ask for clarification about what the license on these files is.

Please send me a link if you believe I am in error.

Sure. Check https://lwn.net/Articles/532665/

That is some seriously disingenuous bullshit you're pulling there. "No programmer has expressed interest", when the official spokesperson for a competing project is complaining about it. The spokesperson! For the whole project!

And all you can do is whine about no actual coders coming to you, hat in hand, when their entire project is officially saying that you're withholding the code?

This is easy to fix, but you're not interested in fixing it. An attitude like that does not belong in open source. You should be ashamed of yourself. We're supposed to all be on the same side. If you want enemies, and to be able to put slimy bullshit over on your competition, while furiously polishing your tin halo, go back to proprietary development, where that kind of crap belongs.

Stop arguing with me and go fix this.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 24, 2013 18:15 UTC (Thu) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

False. False. False. False.

1) Italo is not a programmer. He is the LO marketing lead.

2) His message is not an "official communication" from the project. It is just an ill-tempered post from him on a mailing list.

3) It was not a query, request for clarification, etc., to Apache. If he wants something, he knows where to go for it. So do you.

4) He is wrong on his assertions.

But other than weak grasp of facts and logic, your analysis is impeccable.

-Rob

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 25, 2013 1:43 UTC (Fri) by malor (guest, #2973) [Link]

It doesn't matter if he's a programmer or not, and your inherent bias there is ridiculous.

Per Corbet, he's (an? the?) official spokesperson for the project, to wit:

The specific suspect in question is Italo Vignoli, a director of the Document Foundation and spokesperson for the LibreOffice project.

Stop wasting time arguing with me. The fact that you're still replying to me, instead of just fixing it, is yet more proof that you want to sling words and do your damndest to slow down the competition, not help the open source community.

You're only interested in helping if people line up and do exactly what you say, in exactly the way you say it, which means you don't really want to help at all, you're looking for excuses not to. ("They're not programmers! They didn't ask on the right list! They're asking behind *gasp* a paywall!")

All excuses, and all transparent bullshit.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 25, 2013 2:16 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

This isn't complicated. If Italo wants something from Apache OpenOffice then he should ask for it on the Apache OpenOffice mailing list instead of bitching and moaning about it on the LibreOffice mailing list. Is that an unreasonable request? I'm not asking him to prostrate himself or anything. But if he honestly has a question, then take the question to those who might have an answer. If he wants help with something then take it to those who can help. If he is confused, then talk to those who can clarify. But by all means, if he just wants to spread FUD, then talk to Lwn.net.

Difficult on purpose ???

Posted Jan 25, 2013 22:47 UTC (Fri) by Wol (guest, #4433) [Link]

I know I've had my spats with Rob, but this really does sound like picking a fight!

Why on earth should Rob make his life difficult, to give you an easy ride?

The paper trail is designed, by Apache, to make Apache's life easy. How on earth can you stand there and claim that it was designed to be "being made difficult on purpose", just because it doesn't make *your* life easier!

The whole point behind Open Source is that people do things FOR THEIR OWN PERSONAL BENEFIT but don't make life difficult for other people on purpose. Everything here I see implies that Rob and Apache are doing exactly that - they are not doing things to make your life easier, true, but equally they are not actively hindering you.

If their failure to act is harming you, you need to persuade them that that failure is not in their interest, not just moan about why they should put themselves out to make your life easy.

Cheers,
Wol

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 23:52 UTC (Thu) by marcH (subscriber, #57642) [Link]

> Does that really seem like an unreasonable request?

Unreasonable? No, but why would they spend time on this? Just because the competition is whining on LWN?

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 23:55 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

If it'd take a significant amount of time then the existing intended license terms are unclear and Jon's arguments were well founded.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 0:23 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Did you even read the parent article? It has nothing to do with "license clarity". The main thrust of it was a claim that that there was no work ongoing at Apache to merge the Symphony code. The article took as its assumption that the plan of record was to do the so-called "slow merge".

But as I showed in my response to the article, this is just wrong. The merging work is occurring in branches and anyone can follow the work there:

http://lwn.net/Articles/532945/

And did you even read the LO marketing director's post? He is even further out in left field, claiming that IBM never contributed code to Apache:

http://lwn.net/Articles/532694/

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 4:29 UTC (Fri) by shmget (subscriber, #58347) [Link]

Rob said:
"Did you even read the parent article? It has nothing to do with "license clarity""

The Article said:

"That, of course, is an entirely non-free license header. Interestingly, over 2,000 of those files also have headers indicating that they are distributable under the GNU Lesser General Public License (version 3). These files, in other words, contain conflicting license information but neither case (proprietary or LGPLv3) is consistent with the Apache license. So it would not be entirely surprising to see a bit of confusion over what IBM has really donated. "

Sure... _nothing_ to do with license clarity... at all!

To summarize:

1/ IBM and Apache announce that they have signed a secret legal document
2/ IBM PR announce that they have donnated something called 'Symphony' under AL2 license. Since the document describing what 'Symphony' actually _is_ is 'private, for all we know, what is cover be a Basic Applesoft program that play Beethoven 9th.
3/ An IBM employee dump a bunch of files with random license headers.
4/ Rob, another IBM employee claim that none knows what's in it until some undisclosed uniquely qualified person spend the time to 'inspect' it.
Of course according to Apache's own policy, apache membera shall not touch the license/copyright header unless he is the owner... add to that that non-apache member have no access to the secret license document, so would be incapable of 'inspecting' the code's license in the first place. Which lead with the practical limitation that only IBM employees could safely touch that code...

5/ So in conclusion IBM has granted a license to Apache to make some publicly undisclosed list of file available under AL2. but in the end it is practically still only available to IBM.

===

1/ IBM has a private Island in the Bahamas...
2/ IBM announce in PR campaign that, in a burst of generosity, now the public will be allowed to visit the island.
3/ but... to visit you must first acquire the Island nationality, which can only be done via a Work visa and 3 years of continuous work on the island next to it... which happen also to be owned by IBM.

The OT trivia line forms on the right. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 5:15 UTC (Fri) by ghane (subscriber, #1805) [Link]

I was a user of StarOffice, then bought licences from Sun, then used OO, and now LO. I have no technical or legal brilliance to share.

However, looking at the second article quoted above: http://lwn.net/Articles/532694/

"Please remember that Italian have invented fake donations back in the
year 315, when the fake "Constantin donation" allowed the birth of the
Vatican State and the power of the Popes (which are both based on a
false document)."

If it *had* been created in AD 315, it would not have been a fake, would it? That's the whole point.

And now, back to your regular programming ...
--
Sanjeev

The OT trivia line forms on the right. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 10:35 UTC (Fri) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167) [Link]

It could still have been a fake even if the false document dates back to 315 (which we can find no trace of and nor could people a millennium ago for whom this was a more pressing matter). Forging a contemporary document is a far more ordinary activity that forging a centuries old one, but it's the same crime, just with more risk of detection because eye-witnesses to the facts will still be alive to testify.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 17, 2013 23:28 UTC (Thu) by mjw (subscriber, #16740) [Link]

It isn't really in the hands of the ASF. The ASF can not do much unless IBM cooperates. The ASF policy is that the contributor of the code makes any legal changes to the license headers. This is IMHO a reasonable policy, their might be discrepancies between the code drop and the SGA or legal uncertainties that can only be resolved by the legal department of the company.

As seen in the case of the Oracle code drop this process takes a couple of months. IBM is not willing to do that for all the files (the simplest explanation is that they just don't have the resources to check every file they contributed).

In that sense the ASF is as much a third party as everybody else. Even though they have access the more legal files than other third parties. They still like the contributing company to make the changes necessary so the intended license of code and what the file actually claims matches.

They can nicely ask Rob Weir to check with his legal department and make the changes to benefit the wider community (and all Apache hackers), but they cannot force him or any other IBM employee/volunteer to do any of that work. In that sense IBM employees are as much volunteers as any other Apache contributor.

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 4:34 UTC (Fri) by shmget (subscriber, #58347) [Link]

"(the simplest explanation is that they just don't have the resources to check every file they contributed)."

<sarcasrm>
Sure, IBM takes IP so lightly that they have published a software on the market (Symphony) while having no idea about the legal status of the source code of that product...
</sarcasm>

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 5:20 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

You miss the point. Releasing code is not about what IBM thinks. It is about what the project, working openly and transparently, thinks. The process of reviewing a new code base is not trivial, but it is worthwhile.

For example, when we reviewed the OOo code contributed by Oracle, we founds some errors and had to get them corrected with an amended SGA. Without our careful review, consumers of Apache OpenOffice, including LibreOffice, would have been worse off. For example, it would have introduced serious flaws into their rebasing of LO on AOO, and their subsequent license change to MPL, issues that could have caused them or their users trouble latter. So LibreOffice is already benefiting from our hard work in reviewing contributions. I'm certain they will continue to benefit in the future as well

If LibreOffice is interested in Symphony code (and they should be, lest they fall behind) then they should also want to see it carefully reviewed and brought into released form. That is in their best interest as well.

-Rob

The apology line forms on the left. Please take a number.

Posted Jan 18, 2013 6:53 UTC (Fri) by shmget (subscriber, #58347) [Link]

"If LibreOffice is interested in Symphony code (and they should be, lest they fall behind)"

Thanks for a good laugh... It is nice to see you keep an healthy sens of humour...

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 8:39 UTC (Fri) by mjw (subscriber, #16740) [Link]

I didn't mean it in a sarcastic way. I just meant that they have not assigned enough resources/people to do a proper review of the legal status of all files. Or even enough resources to update the files. That is just the simplest explanation for why the headers haven't just been cleaned up. It is fun to assume there is some grand conspiracy to rob the general public, or LibreOffice in particular, of some useful code. But much simpler to assume IBM just doesn't care and hasn't thought much more about it. They seem genuinely unaware that until they clean up all headers first nobody, even other Apache hackers, can do anything with the code.

IBM seems not very interested in the symphony code base anymore, they now have the (proprietary) IBM Docs (cloud based office) project. And clearly some people IBM assigned to the former symphony/apache project, like Rob Weir, have different priorities than helping out with cleaning up the legal uncertainties of the contributed files.

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 12:33 UTC (Fri) by shmget (subscriber, #58347) [Link]

"They seem genuinely unaware that until they clean up all headers first nobody, even other Apache hackers, can do anything with the code."

nah... they are very much aware. The the mail below from ooo-dev
show clearly that it is deliberate.

http://mail-archives.apache.org/mod_mbox/openoffice-dev/2...

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 15:04 UTC (Fri) by mjw (subscriber, #16740) [Link]

I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. At first I did believe he just didn't understand that this issue matters for people who value legal clarity when dealing with Free Software. But I see now that you are right. IBM, or at least Rob Weir, seems very aware people, including various Apache hackers, feel uneasy with having that code dump with incorrect license headers. And from his responses I see IBM has no intention of rectifying this issue even though ASF policy seems to be that only he can do it as contributor of the files in question. It is almost as if he enjoys the legal uncertainty some people feel to persist. Even though it is in his power to rectify the issue. What a pity :{

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 15:29 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

You can cover your eyes and ears and have as much uncertainty as you want to. It sure is easier to complain than writing code, isn't it?

But if you wanted certainty, then you would write to Apache on their legal-discuss list, ask questions about the SGA license, read the README that is posted for the Symphony code and see that this is actually quite simple.

The license is in the SGA:

http://www.apache.org/licenses/cla-corporate.txt

The README tells what files are covered:

https://svn.apache.org/repos/asf/openoffice/symphony/trun...

If you are not willing to accept that, then you are like the Obama-doubting "Birthers" who harbor paranoid delusions about his birth certificate unless they can waterboard the doctor who delivered him.

Hack or complain. Pick one.

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 15:37 UTC (Fri) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

The README refers to a specific SGA that is available to ASF members but not the general public. This information may not be relevant to determining the licensing state of the files - on the other hand, it might be. We don't know and we have no way of knowing unless further information is provided. You've offered to see if you can obtain the list of covered files, and if it's possible for you to do that then it would remove that uncertainty.

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 15:44 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

The SGA is a standard form. You can see the form here:

http://www.apache.org/licenses/cla-corporate.txt

Again, you seem to be harboring paranoia about what might be written on the reverse of Obama's birth certificate.

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 15:48 UTC (Fri) by micka (subscriber, #38720) [Link]

What's this thing on Obama birth certificate you keep talking about ? Is he a vampire, born in the 18th century ?

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 15:59 UTC (Fri) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784) [Link]

Rob appears to be trying to imply that Matthew is as paranoid as the conspiracy theorists known as "birthers", who think Barack Obama was not born a US citizen (despite his birth having been validly registered in the city of Honolulu, Hawaii, USA in 1961, which is after Hawaii's admission to statehood) and so is ineligible for the Presidency.

Tacky, Rob. Real tacky.

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 16:16 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Not at all. I don't for a second remotely think that Matt believes what he is writing. He is playing Devil's Advocate.

On the other hand, there are some who actually have these delusions that there are secret exceptions and reservations ,and that this code was designed to tempt,lure and deceive LibreOffice, only to pounce on them later.

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 16:47 UTC (Fri) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

? I've spent far too much of my life having licensing discussions with lawyers. I don't believe that there's any hidden agenda or desire to mislead people and then sudden unexpected copyright suit, but the absence of clear and unambiguous licensing information does effectively prevent anyone who has a vaguely functional legal department from being able to touch the code. Nobody benefits from that.

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 21:02 UTC (Fri) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198) [Link]

I think that's a little uncharitable, I don't know Matt personally but I have been reading LWN for a long time and have never known him to act in bad faith, or advance positions just to be a troll. I don't think anyone here has any delusions like you are describing, maybe that's from a different mailing list. Certainly some individual developers like to shoot their mouths off and say all sorts of crazy things.

Actually I believe you are both acting in good faith to clear up the self-evident confusion and that you two will have it sorted out shortly.

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 21:16 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

I was not speaking of Matt. I was speaking of the post from the LibreOffice Marketing Director, linked to in the main article. This comment thread is about the article, isn't it?

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 19, 2013 16:24 UTC (Sat) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

I was not speaking of Matt. I was speaking of the post from the LibreOffice Marketing Director
Really? Then why, two posts further up the chain, did you say
Not at all. I don't for a second remotely think that Matt believes what he is writing. He is playing Devil's Advocate.
You clearly were speaking of Matthew, but perhaps you forgot this in a period of less than five hours.

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 19, 2013 23:56 UTC (Sat) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

So when Matt suggests submitting "racist screeds" to Apache you think he is not playing Devil's Advocate? If so, I think you are the one insulting Matt. Or maybe you just need a bigger dictionary.

-Rob

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 20, 2013 0:00 UTC (Sun) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

I don't think playing Devil's Advocate means what you think it means.

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 20, 2013 0:10 UTC (Sun) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

"In common parlance, a devil's advocate is someone who, given a certain argument, takes a position he or she does not necessarily agree with, for the sake of debate. In taking this position, the individual taking on the devil's advocate role seeks to engage others in an argumentative discussion process. The purpose of such process is typically to test the quality of the original argument and identify weaknesses in its structure, and to use such information to either improve or abandon the original, opposing position."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil%27s_advocate

You took the position of someone submitting a racist screen to Apache, a position you presumably do not agree with, for sake of debate, to test the quality of the original argument, etc.

-Rob

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 20, 2013 0:22 UTC (Sun) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

It's my genuinely held belief that if I were to submit racist screeds via an Apache SGA that they would not be accepted, not a belief that I'm adopting for argument's sake. If you want to stick a label on it, it's argument ad absurdum.

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 20, 2013 0:29 UTC (Sun) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Well, whatever you want to call it, I was saying that you did not believe in submitting racist screeds to Apache, that you were merely using that as a rhetorical device. I apologize if you thought that was an insult.

-Rob

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 19, 2013 16:22 UTC (Sat) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

We should be surprised? Everything Rob's said so far has been a mass of obstructionism, bafflegab, and tendentious argument, beginning with criticising others but then refusing to explain his position when pressed (since all that should go to Apache lists, not here, how very convenient).

The imputations of bad faith to Matthew (without any evidence) are a nice touch too. I have no *idea* how Matthew has kept his cool through all this, but if working on AOO means working with Rob I can see why LibreOffice is taking off.

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 15:49 UTC (Fri) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

"Please refer to the list contained in the Software Grant and Corporate Contributor License Agreement for more information."

What extra information does that list contain? If the information contained within it isn't relevant, why am I being asked to refer to it?

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 16:05 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

You're not. missing anything. I've now removed that line to avoid the confusion that it was obviously causing.

Now would you agree that the status is clear, based on the README and the SGA license?

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 16:21 UTC (Fri) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

I'd suggest two further changes:

1) Add an explicit link to http://www.apache.org/licenses/cla-corporate.txt and the revision number in the preamble, just to avoid any potential doubts about whether "a Software Grant and Corporate Contributor License Agreement ("SGA ")" refers to the standard Apache one or a different one negotiated by IBM and the Foundation (in much the same way as "released under the terms of the GNU GPL" is ambiguous as to which version it refers to).

2) Add "These materials are contributed under the SGA" to point (2)

I think that those would make the intended copyright status completely unambiguous, but I think the change you've already made goes a long way.

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 13:20 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

In a way you are right. This is a resource issue.

Imagine if the project agreed to publish (release) the Symphony codebase. That would require months of up front work, but would also be an ongoing obligation. We would need to provide patches and do CVE reporting on discovered security flaws. We would need to track bugs. We would need to respond to user and developer queries. We would need to maintain the code and periodically come out with new releases.

We were certainly willing to do this, if the project wanted to make Symphony be the new base for the OpenOffice project. But after examining the code and lengthy discussions, the community decided against that path and decided on the "slow merge" approach, to take enhancements from Symphony and merge them into OpenOffice. That is fine. I can see the merit in that decision. It is less disruptive to users. It keeps us on the code base that more volunteers are familiar with, etc.

But once that decision was made, it no longer makes sense to release the Symphony code base, and take on those support obligations. To do so would be to have responsibilities to maintain and support two different code bases, Symphony and OpenOffice. Double the work. Who would want to do that? Remember, the point of the Symphony contribution was to end the Symphony fork and concentrate resources on a single project, not simply to maintain the fork to another venue.

Regards,

-Rob

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 14:01 UTC (Fri) by mjw (subscriber, #16740) [Link]

IBM not having resources to finalize the donation of the code base and clear up any legal uncertainties by cleaning up the file headers is a pity. But then you shouldn't be surprised people are scratching their head whether IBM really donated the code or not. The current status is that people (both from Apache and in the wider Free Software community) don't feel sure about the legal status of these files.

But you seem to misunderstand what people are asking for from IBM. Nobody is asking for a full blown ASF blessed Symphony release.

The current status of the symphony donation is unclear because the file headers don't match the intended license IBM says they wanted to grant to the ASF and the general public. As you say yourself IBM might have made mistakes in their SGA list or the code dump. And ASF policy is that only the contributor of the files can update the license headers. Without that having happened neither other Apache hackers nor the general public can really legally (re)use this contribution. By cleaning up the file headers and double checking their legal status you as IBM would not just help the general public, but also your fellow Apache hackers to work on integrating and completing the "slow merge" sooner.

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 14:31 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Anyone who thinks the file headers are an issue, and that merely changing them does anything to the license, has a poor understanding.

Take a look at the README. The file headers tell you which files are IBM contributions, versus pre-existing OpenOffice files. And read some other, more perceptive comments on this same topic.

In any case, you seem to misunderstand what Apache projects do. We don't just take code, slap a new license header on things, hold our nose and toss it over the wall for public consumption. That is not how we operate. We're not the money launderers of the open source world. We do thorough reviews or we don't release at all. There is no Apache-lite release. I sense that you wish this were not the case, but it is.

And note that there is absolutely no issue for project members to touch the code. They already have. Indeed, with the Oracle SGA it took 6 months to clean up all the headers, and all along we were all working on the code base. So that is non-issue, more FUD.

Regards,

-Rob

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 15:11 UTC (Fri) by mjw (subscriber, #16740) [Link]

I get the impression you deliberately misunderstand the issue.

The issue is precisely the indirect nature of the license grant. If IBM would clean up the header files that does give legal clarity (as opposed to anybody else changing those legal statements on the files).

People don't question the value of what Apache projects do. That is indeed much more than the single act of IBM clearing up the legal status of the files by cleaning up the headers.

Various Apache project members have stated on the mailinglist they feel not cleaning up the headers is a problem and they don't want to touch any of the files till IBM does that.

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 15:32 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

But we are cleaning up those files and getting them into proper form, as we merge them into OpenOffice 4.0. So we're doing exactly what we need to do to get this code into a release. Maybe not as fast as you would like, but complaining doesn't make it happen any faster.

You seem to be upset that we're not also maintaining a second fork of Symphony for the benefit of LibreOffice. Sorry, but no one has volunteered to do that. We're working on one codebase.

-Rob

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 19, 2013 16:26 UTC (Sat) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

You seem to be upset that we're not also maintaining a second fork of Symphony for the benefit of LibreOffice. Sorry, but no one has volunteered to do that. We're working on one codebase.
You keep on saying this over and over, but nobody else in the thread has suggested it, and several people have explicitly said that this is not what they want. Does license clarity necessarily require a fork?! If so, Apache's procedures are even more hidebound than I thought they were.

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 21:07 UTC (Fri) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198) [Link]

> ongoing obligation. We would need to provide patches and do CVE reporting on discovered security flaws. We would need to track bugs. We would need to respond to user and developer queries. We would need to maintain the code and periodically come out with new releases.

I'm guessing that there is probably legitimate disagreement on that point, there are many instances of code dumps where a dead project is released without any obligation for ongoing maintenance. The quicker that is done the quicker that others can pick over the corpse for juicy tidbits.

Priority of cleaning up unclear legal status

Posted Jan 18, 2013 21:22 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Well, I know there were fantasies expressed in some quarters, that Apache would just take the OpenOffice.org code from Oracle, slap an Apache license on it, and hand it over, along with trademarks, website, etc., to LibreOffice. Those fantasies have gone unfulfilled.

It would probably be very unsatisfying to develop new fantasies that Apache will do this for the Symphony contribution. The plan of record, as decided by the community, is to merge enhancements from Symphony into OpenOffice and release this code as part of Apache OpenOffice 4.0.

Remember, Symphony is not an entirely different code base. It is a fork of OpenOffice.org. We're just rejoining the codebases and ending the fork.

If LibreOffice is truly interested in having "juicy tidbits" from it, then it is in their best interest for us to merge the code into Apache OpenOffice, where they can cherry pick from it, just like their ongoing harvesting of features from OpenOffice 3.4.1. It will be much easier for them to have one code base to sync from, then deal with two.

Congratulations! [was: priority of cleaning up unclear legal status]

Posted Jan 18, 2013 21:33 UTC (Fri) by jubal (subscriber, #67202) [Link]

I have to admit, you're an incredible PR asset to both the Libre Office and The Document Foundation, Mr. Weir.

Congratulations! [was: priority of cleaning up unclear legal status]

Posted Jan 18, 2013 21:42 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

I believe I responded to that point previously:

http://bit.ly/106X3e4

-Rob

Congratulations! [was: priority of cleaning up unclear legal status]

Posted Jan 18, 2013 21:54 UTC (Fri) by jubal (subscriber, #67202) [Link]

My apologies, no more feeding trolls for me today!

All rights reserved

Posted Feb 1, 2013 1:06 UTC (Fri) by mema (guest, #89121) [Link]

Perhaps they have other priorities, such as working on their own code base.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 1:01 UTC (Thu) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167) [Link]

The Wikipedia page also explains why the phrase came into use and what it was for.

Lawyers don't like novelty. Novelty is always a source of uncertainty, and clients don't like uncertainty.

So if a clause reading "Trap no beagles forwards the staff quarters" appeared in the previous fifty contracts, then by default it's going into the fifty-first contract. That is true even if the other fifty contracts had that language purely as a result of a copy-paste error by a clerk. Because those contracts worked, and we want the new contract to work too.

Unless/ until there's a case where "All rights reserved" is found to screw things up for the client, no lawyer anywhere is going to go out of their way to recommend that you stop writing that on things /even though it now makes no difference/ and remains purely by superstition. If you're the client of course you can ask, and a good lawyer will say "Yeah, that's just superstition and we can remove it" but if you don't ask they certainly aren't going to suggest you go without the magic talisman.

It's not just lawyers, this happens on our home territory -- people who type "sync; sync; sync" for example; and in medicine -- NICE has a Do Not Do list, of specific things practitioners do that are not known to be effective but people do them anyway; and no doubt many other fields.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 16, 2013 22:15 UTC (Wed) by juliank (subscriber, #45896) [Link]

You also say all rights reserved with a BSD license. It just says that the author reserves those rights (that is, claims copyright on the work), not that the work is not licensed to anyone else. Thus, if there is a license in the file, the license applies.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 16, 2013 23:36 UTC (Wed) by mjw (subscriber, #16740) [Link]

So the symphony code is currently distributed under the LGPL by the ASF?
What about those files (the article claims a couple of thousand) that only have that notice and no license statement?

It is at least somewhat confusing. It would be good to have a clear legal statement from the ASF what the status of those files are. It would be great if the work could be freely reused.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 0:25 UTC (Thu) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

Well, if there is a license statement for the codebase as a whole, I would expect that it applies to all the files in the codebase. Specific files in the codebase may grant additional permissions, but unless the overall license statement states that some files are not covered by it, I would expect that you are on solid ground treating all files as if they are covered by that statement. IANAL

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 0:28 UTC (Thu) by corbet (editor, #1) [Link]

For the curious, this is the full text of the README file at the top of the Symphony tree.

Apache OpenOffice.org Contribution Readme file

Name: IBM Lotus Symphony Contribution to the Apache OpenOffice Project
Contributors: IBM Corporation
License: Apache License Version 2.0
License URL: http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0.html

This package contains software source code that IBM desires to contribute to 
the Apache Software Foundation under a Software Grant and Corporate Contributor 
License Agreement ("SGA ").  A set of Third Party Library files are provided under 
their existing open source software licenses and a set of Apache OpenOffice v3.4 
file are provided under the Apache v2 license as well.  IBM's contributed files are 
based on the source code of IBM Lotus Symphony v3.0.1.

The files in the contributed package are in four categories:
1) Original Oracle owned files that IBM downloaded from the Oracle Openoffice.org 
website - this includes both unmodified files as well as files that were modified by IBM.  
The IBM owned materials are contributed under the SGA, the Oracle owned materials 
are provided under the Apache v2 license. The total constitutes approximately 56,000 files.
2) IBM owned files.  This constitutes approximately 12000 files.
3) Files downloaded from Apache OpenOffice v3.4 under the Apache v2 license. This 
constitutes approximately  250 files.
4) Third Party Library files that are under an open source license.  This constitutes 
approximately 150 files.
Please refer to the list contained in the Software Grant and Corporate Contributor License 
Agreement for more information.

Note: Files that are created or modified by IBM and contain IBM owned materials include 
file headers of the following form:
/************************************************************************
 *
 * Licensed Materials - Property of IBM.
 * (C) Copyright IBM Corporation 2003, 2012.  All Rights Reserved.
 * U.S. Government Users Restricted Rights:
 * Use, duplication or disclosure restricted by GSA ADP Schedule Contract with IBM Corp.
 *
 ************************************************************************/


All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 1:00 UTC (Thu) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

wow, so you have to go look in the SGA agreement to figure out what's what. Is that document in the tree or somewhere else?

At the very least, this is making it very hard for someone to know what they can and cannot do.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 17:45 UTC (Thu) by malor (guest, #2973) [Link]

Definitely not a lawyer, but my read of that is that the files have been released to the Apache Foundation, and not to me. Unless and until the Apache folks put a license grant in themselves, then I don't see a clear chain of permissions from the original authors to myself.

Since Apache pretty clearly knows that they're distributing the files, I assume there's an implicit transfer and inspection grant there, but I see nothing saying that I can modify those files, or transfer them to anyone else.

My understanding of the GPL is that if I write something, and give it to you under GPL terms, then you have most of the rights that I have, but nobody else does, yet. After the transfer, either of us can now grant rights to someone else (albeit somewhat fewer rights, in your case), but we have to actually do it. If neither of us took the explicit step of granting rights, then someone else who intercepted the transmission wouldn't legally be able to incorporate the code in one of their projects. I see no reason why the Apache license would be different; it grants more rights on an authorized transfer, but transfers must still be authorized.

As far as I can see, that's our present status; we're eavesdroppers on the transfer of code from IBM to Apache, and until Apache explicitly says we can use it, it's strictly their code.

Stauts of these files

Posted Jan 17, 2013 15:38 UTC (Thu) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

The status of those files is that they have been contributed to Apache under an SGA from IBM, with exception for 3rd party files, as noted in the README file in the root:

https://svn.apache.org/repos/asf/openoffice/symphony/trun...

These files have not been published by Apache. When software is published (or as we call it "Released") it must first go through a review stage that involves verifying that the license headers are correct and that any 3rd party code is under a permissive license that conforms to Apache policy and that 3rd party licenses are properly noted in the aggregate LICENSE file and that required 3rd party notices are aggregated into a NOTICE file. Ultimately, a Release occurs when the project completes these reviews and votes to release.

I think it is pretty simple. Until code is released, someone dipping into Subversion for code is on their own. They project does not vouch for its quality, performance, security or license. That is why the release process is so important, and the checks that occur at that time. I think this is one important thing that sets Apache projects apart from others. We take the release process and the IP reviews very seriously. It is that process that puts the imprimatur of the project on the code. Until then it is caveat emptor.

In any case, I consider it rather rude for anyone to be poking around pre-release source code and then complaining about its quality. If you want to help, then help. If you want to wait for the release, then wait for the release. But please temper your expectations if you are going to play with pre-release software, not even beta yet.

Re: Stauts of these files

Posted Jan 18, 2013 1:01 UTC (Fri) by simosx (subscriber, #24338) [Link]

I think it is pretty simple. Until code is released, someone dipping into Subversion for code [of Symphony] is on their own. They project [Apache] does not vouch for its quality, performance, security or license.

I suppose you mean here that The project does not vouch for the Symphony code license with respect to third-party code.

If that is the case, then you should simply state it. That any code owned by IBM (All rights reserved to IBM) is distributed under the Apache License with the exception of any files that mention other copyright holders.

Re: Stauts of these files

Posted Jan 18, 2013 1:21 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Actually, I meant exactly what I wrote.

It is not our process to encourage downstream consumers to dip into pre-release code, source or binary. Although we work transparently, the pre-release code is intended for project participants to work with, not for the general public.

In fact we actively take steps to discourage general use pre-release. For example, we don't send out notes to general user lists advertising developer snapshot builds. We only advertise that on internal project lists.

Remember, we take pride in the full review we give to our releases. This is part of the Apache reputation, the Apache brand. I don't think we should dumb that down and publish to the public "Apache-lite" code that is only-partially reviewed, for the benefit consumers who are impatient to wait for the real release, but also unwilling to help us get there.

Regards,

-Rob

Re: Stauts of these files

Posted Jan 18, 2013 1:52 UTC (Fri) by simosx (subscriber, #24338) [Link]

What you wrote earlier is vague.
Do you not vouch the Apache license even for the Symphony code that is clearly owned by IBM? You said earlier that you do not vouch for the license and leave it open for interpretation.
You gave the impression that LibreOffice takes lots of stuff from Apache Office. This would be a good opportunity for LibreOffice to do the work and not depend on Apache Office.

Re: Stauts of these files

Posted Jan 18, 2013 2:09 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

What I vouch for is not the relevant. I'm not a voucher.

The point is that Apache projects do not encourage downstream consumers to dip into SVN to grab unreviewed code. All sorts of issues can occur in such code.

For example, I've seen code, submitted under SGA, that contained a proprietary Microsoft header file. It was an honest mistake, and fixed as soon as found, but it very good that this did not spread to other products, due to the obvious consequences that can come from it. (Anyone remember SCO?).

The fact that other projects may have less concern for basic hygiene and are more willing to accept risk does not mean that we should encourage this. IMHO it would be irresponsible to encourage others to download and consume unreviewed code.

In any case, I truly do appreciate your concern, and your recognition that LibreOffice would greatly benefit from code from Apache OpenOffice. But it would sure be nice to hear it from them, with a real proposal for cooperation, then have it be argued by proxies.

Re: Stauts of these files

Posted Jan 18, 2013 18:16 UTC (Fri) by simosx (subscriber, #24338) [Link]

The fact that other projects may have less concern for basic hygiene and are more willing to accept risk does not mean that we should encourage this. IMHO it would be irresponsible to encourage others to download and consume unreviewed code.

In any case, I truly do appreciate your concern, and your recognition that LibreOffice would greatly benefit from code from Apache OpenOffice. But it would sure be nice to hear it from them, with a real proposal for cooperation, then(sic) have it be argued by proxies.

Ouch, Rob, ouch!

Having read this, it feels quite toxic to approach the Apache Foundation.

What is your definition of real proposal for cooperation? You should blog about this. I highly doubt that you would accept any proposal unless you write it yourself.

Does the Apache Foundation have a process to deal with the polarization from the OpenOffice.org case? If not, I suggest to get someone be the contact point for the Apache Foundation in trying to resolve the issue.

Re: Stauts of these files

Posted Jan 18, 2013 18:36 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

If you want to ask a question of the Apache OpenOffice project you can send it to: dev@openoffice.apache.org

That's where we do business, openly and transparently on publicly-archived mailing lists. We don't resolve issues behind pay-walls.

As for cooperation, we (IBM) have reached out to the companies who do the vast majority of the LibreOffice coding, and offered to help them with the Symphony code, especially in the areas of accessibility and Microsoft interoperability. They said they were not interested.

So I suggest we try to leave hypothetically behind, and if anyone who actually has the ability and desire to do something with this code has a genuine question, then they can take to the Apache mailing list. But hypothetical from bystanders are not really interesting to me.

Re: Stauts of these files

Posted Jan 19, 2013 16:34 UTC (Sat) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

We don't resolve issues behind pay-walls.
What paywall? Anybody can contribute to this thread, paying subscriber or no, and articles in the weekly edition can be sent to anyone via the prominently displayed subscriber link at the bottom of the article. No articles stay behind a paywall for longer than a week in any case.

If this is a paywall, it's a totally ineffective one.

Re: Stauts of these files

Posted Jan 19, 2013 22:46 UTC (Sat) by simosx (subscriber, #24338) [Link]

Rob, you are toxic. In every reply you add a snide remark or two.

LWN a paywal? In four days the article will be public and people will see what kind of bully you are.

You say that you are only interested in coders?
If you are trying to build a community, then you are doing it wrong.

You end up being a liability to the Apache Foundation.

Re: Stauts of these files

Posted Jan 19, 2013 23:36 UTC (Sat) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Well, yes. When discussing code I am mainly interested in talking to coders who actually want to make use of the code, not bystanders who are just looking for debating practice. Seems kind of obvious. Or at least I would have thought.

As for building a community, I think we're doing fine. 50 new QA volunteers in the last two weeks, based on a promotion that I took the lead on. Coders will be next.

In any case, don't feel that you absolutely need to respond unless you have a comment on the article. I'm happy to answer questions on those topics. But I'm not going to waste time engaging in meta-arguments, i.e., arguments about the argument, by those who have nothing useful to say about the main points of the article.

-Rob

Re: Stauts of these files

Posted Jan 20, 2013 21:59 UTC (Sun) by simosx (subscriber, #24338) [Link]

Rob, you are a bully. You are playing the bully game and at the same time, by association, you make Apache Office look like a dirty project.

Your bullying trick now is to divert the discussion and make it personal.

What do you think the Apache Office community will feel if they see your comments? Do you object if I take the issue to the Apache Foundation?

Re: Stauts of these files

Posted Jan 19, 2013 16:32 UTC (Sat) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

I hasten to add that most Apache projects are not remotely this bad. Rob is very definitely an outlier. The SpamAssassin people are charming and helpful, for instance, as are the HTTP server guys. I'm afraid that 'charming and helpful' is not at all a decsription I could apply to Rob in this thread.

Stauts of these files

Posted Jan 19, 2013 16:30 UTC (Sat) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

These files have not been published by Apache.
I note that people on the apache-legal mailing list were saying the precise opposite of this only two days ago, that anything in SVN counts as being distributed as long as anyone at all can download it. You even followed up and agreed with that statement. All very unclear.

Stauts of these files

Posted Jan 19, 2013 17:00 UTC (Sat) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Distribution != publication. See, for example, the MIT License where these are called out as separate rights.

AS Roy explained in a response:

"The dev subversion repo is not a means of distributing to the
"general public". It distributes to our self-selected development
teams that are expected to be aware of the state of the code being
distributed.

When we distribute to the "general public", it is called a release."

-Rob

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 16, 2013 23:59 UTC (Wed) by neilbrown (subscriber, #359) [Link]

Just a data point:
/home/git/linux$ git grep -i 'all rights reserved' | wc -l
5854
Don't know what it means though.

All rights reserved

Posted Jan 17, 2013 23:16 UTC (Thu) by simosx (subscriber, #24338) [Link]

As mentioned earlier, there is a common misconception what 'copyright' and what 'All rights reserved' means.

Under the Berne Convention, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berne_Convention_for_the_Pro...
any artistic work (like software) grants the creator full rights, as in 'All Rights Reserved'. This is automatic and you do not need to claim 'All Rights Reserved'. As the owner, you are in the position to attach a license such as the GPL, so that other can use your code (according to the GPL).

Free software depends on copyright; without copyright, you cannot enforce the GPL!

Therefore, when you search for 'All Rights Reserved', you must check that the GPL (or similar) is also attached to the code.

All rights reserved

Posted Feb 1, 2013 0:50 UTC (Fri) by mema (guest, #89121) [Link]

All rights reserved means the copyright holder continues to have all of the rights of a copyright holder.

Are you suggesting that the GPL is so viral that the copyright holders to not continue to retain the rights given them by law?

A discordant symphony

Posted Jan 17, 2013 4:35 UTC (Thu) by jiu (guest, #57673) [Link]

So in this instance, the Apache Open Office project, by restricting the possibility of competition for a time with regards to these new features, is going directly against the interest of users. That's not good.

A discordant symphony

Posted Jan 17, 2013 11:15 UTC (Thu) by lmb (subscriber, #39048) [Link]

> Given the way the AOO and LibreOffice projects view each other, and given that the Apache license gives LibreOffice the right to incorporate AOO code, it would not be surprising to see AOO developers working to defer the release of this code under their license for as long as possible. It would be embarrassing for LibreOffice to show up with Symphony features first, after all.

Open Source at it's best indeed.

A discordant symphony

Posted Jan 17, 2013 12:34 UTC (Thu) by mjw (subscriber, #16740) [Link]

To be honest I don't really understand what the big deal is. LibreOffice seems fine with reusing the code and properly recognizing the hackers that did it. Just look at the upcoming LibreOffice 4.0 Release Notes, which have a couple of improvements for which they thank Apache hackers:
https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/ReleaseNotes/4.0

What's all the fussing about?

Posted Jan 17, 2013 13:43 UTC (Thu) by tcabot (subscriber, #6656) [Link]

(meta: I'm not trying to be snarky, I'm genuinely curious)

From all this fussing over the Symphony code base you'd get the impression that it was a true MSOffice killer suite, and that both open source suites will get a big boost from incorporating it in their code. On the other hand, Lotus Symphony as a commercial product didn't seem to make much headway in the market. Is there a page somewhere that explains how the Symphony code will make OpenOffice/LibreOffice better? What features does it have to justify all this noise? Or is it just an excuse for two groups with some pre-existing bad blood to snipe at one another?

What's all the fussing about?

Posted Jan 17, 2013 23:38 UTC (Thu) by simosx (subscriber, #24338) [Link]

There are apparently some useful features in IBM Lotus Symphony, however I did not try it recently.

You can get a copy of the latest version from
http://www-03.ibm.com/software/lotus/symphony/home.nsf/home
In terms of the old OpenOffice, I think it corresponds to OpenOffice.org 3.1.

The license for IBM Lotus Symphony is http://goo.gl/eyio2

Make LibreOffice better

Posted Jan 25, 2013 23:05 UTC (Fri) by Wol (guest, #4433) [Link]

Imho the only thing that will satisfy the PHBs is for any competitor to be an EXACT clone of Word et al.

imho even WordPerfect SIX was much better than Word is today. For those who don't remember, that was a DOS/Win3.1 product - before even the Windows Operating System.

At the end of the day, "nobody gets fired for buying Microsoft". Until we can change that, NOTHING will be the killer feature you're looking for.

IF/WHEN LibreOffice/OOo can clone the "reveal codes" feature from WordPerfect that, imho, will be a killer feature, but not enough on its own to break the MS-Windows/MS-Office monopoly.

Cheers,
Wol

Make LibreOffice better

Posted Jan 27, 2013 16:23 UTC (Sun) by mathstuf (subscriber, #69389) [Link]

Reveal codes seem, to me, to be "show invisibles" but for the markup such as font changes and such? The first search results are all of the "they're gone, what do we do?" And seem to assume you know what it is already. I don't know what I'd use it for other than me being OCD and I'd probably just ask myself "why am I not using TeX?". Care to explain what you've found so useful about it?

Easily avoidable factual errors in this article

Posted Jan 17, 2013 15:18 UTC (Thu) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Hi Jonathan,

Your article would have been much improved if you had taken a minute to ask anyone at Apache about this. As it is you have stated several things incorrectly.

First, saying something is being done in a branch does not mean, as you state: "that work is being done, we just aren't allowed to see it yet". A branch is merely a way to do preliminary coding in an isolated way without causing instability in the main trunk of the project. Once a feature is working and tested on a branch, then the merge into the trunk can be done with greater confidence. This is a good thing and is how larger projects can work on several features simultaneously while preserving stability.

In our case, the work being done in the branches is public and anyone is free to examine it: https://svn.apache.org/repos/asf/openoffice/branches/

You will see there branches for both the IAccesibility2 integration as well as the sidebar UI enhancements from Symphony, as well as other features.

Presumably this also answers your rhetorical question of "One might wonder why almost none of that work appears to be happening." The work in fact is being done, though by failing to ask us about it you also failed to see that the work was in plain site in our version control, in the branch, exactly where I said it was.

As for saying that 167 bug fixes are not "significant", I'd note that these fixes are mainly in the area of improved Microsoft Office interoperability, which according to our latest user surveys is #1 on their list of improvements they want to see. 100+ fixes in that area, taken together, is a significant benefit, and not something that should so easily be dismissed.

As for the "obscure internal process" Apache uses to review the code contributed to new projects, it is called "Incubation" and we have an entire website dedicated to it: https://incubator.apache.org/ How a new product is reviewed and prepared for release is described there in excruciating detail for anyone who cares to look. And all of this work occurs transparently, on public mailing lists. This is far from "obscure"

In the future, please consider sending clarifying questions to the Apache OpenOffice project. I think it would go far to improve the quality of Lwn.net articles. We have a link for Press inquiries right on our homepage. We'd be glad to answer any questions.

Regards,

-Rob

Easily avoidable factual errors in this article

Posted Jan 20, 2013 20:08 UTC (Sun) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

One other glaring error. You refer to me as "de-facto AOO leader". This starts off the article with a clear bias and shows poor understanding of how Apache projects work.

Suggested reading: http://www.apache.org/foundation/how-it-works.html

In particular we don't have a kind of leadership where one person speaks for the entire project, without discussion and without consensus. That is why you misrepresent things when you take one or two quotes off a mailing list, out of context, and without asking whether this expresses the will of the project

In any case, my comments on the AOO mailing lists, and indeed my comments on this article, are my own personal opinions. For anyone to suggest otherwise is inaccurate and misleading.

-Rob

A discordant symphony

Posted Jan 21, 2013 0:21 UTC (Mon) by branden (guest, #7029) [Link]

I'd like to nominate Rob Weir for the David Dawes Award in Outstanding Project Management.

Thank you.

A discordant symphony

Posted Jan 24, 2013 8:20 UTC (Thu) by aristedes (guest, #35729) [Link]

I am quite baffled as to the level of bad temper in this thread. Rob has been far more patient than I can understand continually replying to the same questions again and again.

The original article started the ball rolling with factually incorrect statements about Apache keeping stuff secret in branches (where the entire svn tree is in fact public, including the branches). And then posters continued to pound the same tired rhetoric again and again:

1. Apache should prioritise the review the legal state of the donation, so that it can be released under an Apache license as soon as possible.

2. Whether Apache contributors are working hard on merging the appropriate parts of the donation with OpenOffice is irrelevant, their first responsibility should be to provide a legal vetting service and release the code under an Apache license to the LibreOffice project (and others, but we all know there aren't any others). Merging code back into OpenOffice can take second priority to this.

3. Because the project is instead working on merging code to their own plan, then Apache must be secretive or malicious or something else quite sinister.

Have a got this about right?

It is perfectly clear to everyone here that the code has been donated by IBM. That some parts of it might still have license issues and Apache cannot currently make a blanket statement that it is all guaranteed to end up under ALv2. Not without quite a lot of work to check it all.

Do you think that all that is needed is Rob single handedly putting a note on the website to say "We release all this under the ALv2" and that he is not doing this to spite you all? The entire Apache Foundation NEVER releases anything under the ALv2 license unless it goes through the proper processes, is verified (quality/code/etc) and is voted on. This forms the core of the Foundation's reputation.

If this code is terribly valuable to LibreOffice, perhaps some volunteers from that project could step forward to help merge it into OpenOffice and where it will easily travel downstream to LibreOffice.

I've only come into this thread when the paywall was lifted, but it isn't the typical quality of conversation I've come to expect on LWN.

A discordant symphony

Posted Jan 24, 2013 8:51 UTC (Thu) by jrn (subscriber, #64214) [Link]

> I am quite baffled as to the level of bad temper in this thread.

Likewise.

> It is perfectly clear to everyone here that the code has been donated by IBM.

Donated to the ASF, yes. All donated to the public (rather than just the parts that make their way to the openoffice.org codebase), not so clear to me.

A discordant symphony

Posted Jan 25, 2013 4:55 UTC (Fri) by aristedes (guest, #35729) [Link]

> Donated to the ASF, yes. All donated to the public (rather than just the parts that make their way to the openoffice.org codebase), not so clear to me.

I'd say that is a fair assessment. If IBM assigned rights to the ASF, that doesn't mean they released the code under the ALv2 to the general public. Eventually the good bits will end up there, and perhaps you could make a case that the code was *effectively* released by IBM under the ALv2, but that would be for lawyers to argue.

Maybe the bad temper here is because the LibreOffice people thought that IBM should have donated it to them instead and now are stamping their foot saying "but we are the REAL open source office suite".

A discordant symphony

Posted Jan 25, 2013 6:48 UTC (Fri) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

it's not that the LO people are saying that the content should have been donated to them, it's that they are saying that IBM should have donated the content to the community, not to any one set of developers to mine as they choose and to bury as they choose. Even 'toss it over the fence' releases are better than having a biased gatekeeper deciding what lines to put under a opensource license and what lines to keep proprietary and turn into complete dead-ends.

I will also say that this is the first time that I've heard of a company donating code where the code is not then available in it's entirety, and you instead have a second layer of people (not the people donating the code) deciding what parts will actually be made Open Source

A discordant symphony

Posted Jan 25, 2013 12:40 UTC (Fri) by bosyber (guest, #84963) [Link]

Indeed, a striking difference to http://lwn.net/SubscriberLink/533425/30446205161e3983/ (lighthouse opensourced), where despite the usual probems a community is now able to use and work on a thought to be lost program because all available code and information is provided as openly as possible.

A discordant symphony

Posted Jan 26, 2013 6:52 UTC (Sat) by aristedes (guest, #35729) [Link]

Then you haven't looked very hard. There are hundreds of examples just within Apache of corporate donations to Apache projects. In each and every one of those cases, the Apache release (which includes part or all of that code) is not controlled by the company making the donation. This case is absolutely no different. Google Wave and Cloudscape/Derby are two huge examples I can think of immediately.

I am sure there are lots of similar situations outside of Apache (but I'm less familiar with those).

Now what "biased gatekeeper" are you talking about keeping code proprietary? What absolute nonsense. The entire purpose of all the people who work for Apache is to release code under a liberal open source license. There is no great secret conspiracy. If you see something valuable that you want in LO, then go and help the OpenOffice people integrate it into the code base which LO will merge at some point (assuming LO will continue as Apache OpenOffice with additional patches).

You are so negative toward the Apache volunteers working toward similar open source goals (mostly in their free time) for the benefit of both the Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice projects. What is it exactly you think the project should do differently?

A discordant symphony

Posted Feb 1, 2013 1:11 UTC (Fri) by mema (guest, #89121) [Link]

I'd suggest it happens much more often then you are aware. Quite often I hear about donations to free software but there is no code at all to be seen until the project it was donated to integrates it.
The difference may well be that Apache is more open and the code is visible even before integration, unlike many other free software entities.

A discordant symphony

Posted Feb 1, 2013 1:29 UTC (Fri) by mema (guest, #89121) [Link]

Donated to the ASF is just as much donated to the "public" as if the code was donated to a GPL project or even the FSF itself. In fact more so, perhaps. Neither is public domain, which is the only real code donated to the public.

A discordant symphony

Posted Jul 5, 2014 23:15 UTC (Sat) by rdcalvo (guest, #97749) [Link]

After careful reading I just came to the following conclusions:

1) The codebase from Symphony was donated to ASF but this codebase is not being licensed "as is" to the community.
2) Even if the ASF makes the terms of the agreement public (as "demanded" by some pepole) that DOES NOT configure the contents of the SVN repository (containing the Symphony codebase) as freely available to the general public.
3) In order for the community to take advantage of IBM's donation to ASF, ASF would need to release the code (not the SW) to the general public under a license. This could be achieved without touching any file header. It would be necessary to include a manifest indicating which files in the SVN repository are part of the licensing process.

I see no reason not to license the codebase to the general public unless the terms of the agreement between IBM and ASF prevents this to be done.


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