[ocaml-infra] ocaml.org licensing

Anil Madhavapeddy avsm2 at cl.cam.ac.uk
Wed Feb 26 16:57:00 GMT 2014

On 26 Feb 2014, at 16:20, Fabrice Le Fessant <fabrice.le_fessant at ocamlpro.com> wrote:

> Hi,
>  I have a few points that I would like to see clarified before:
> 1/ What is exactly "Ocaml.org" in this discussion ? Is opam.ocaml.org
> included here, or not ? I think it would be clearer if the website was
> called "www.ocaml.org", and this licensing policy only applied to that
> site.

This is a good point.

I'd be inclined to go the other direction and include the opam.ocaml.org
content under the "*.ocaml.org" wing, since more clarity is better than
less.  In the case of opam.ocaml.org, there's much less original content
than the mainline ocaml.org.  As I see it, opam.ocaml.org has:

* The documentation on OPAM installation.
* The look-and-feel CSS (which will be folded into the ocaml.org one at
  some point)
* Tools such as opam2web generate the bulk of the content from the
  database, which already has a well-defined license.

So it's really just the first point that needs clarification.  Note that
some of the resources behind ocaml.org (such as the DNS and the SSL
certificates) cover all the sub-domains, so it makes sense to merge the
copyright handling as well.

> 2/ Ashish said the goal was to "give appropriate credit to
> contributors", but I couldn't find either a page listing the
> contributors, nor an official copyright holder or just contributors
> per page. As a consequence, I don't see who is the BY of CC BY-SA 4.0
> [1].
> By the way, in France, the site would be illegal, I think, as there is
> no public entity (or individual) taking the responsibility for
> potential illegal content on any page.

I think this is going to keep cropping and causing problems, but it's
worth seeing how other languages deal with this.  Python.org is owned by
a registered foundation, but the Haskell.org wiki is simply released
under BSD-style: http://www.haskell.org/haskellwiki/HaskellWiki:Copyrights

I'm not familiar with French law but would like to read up on it;
could you provide a pointer to why Haskell.org would be illegal in 
France (or is this only if it's *hosted* in France?).

> 3/ I am concerned by the "governance" part of
> http://ocaml.org/about.html . I don't think the 5 current members are
> representative of the OCaml community, 3 of them are in the UK, 1 in
> the US and 1 in Belgium. Given that the current rules gives them too
> much power (each of them has the right to prevent anybody from joining
> the group: I have never seen that anywhere else, I would actually
> expect the contrary, that any member would have the right to add new
> members), I think it is a barrier for adoption and contribution by the
> wider community (especially the French one, see for example how
> outdated the page http://ocaml.org/docs/install.fr.html is, latest
> version is 4.00.1 there).

It's important to note that the governance structure arises from the
people who participate and have done most of the work as volunteers
(particularly Ashish and Christophe).   That's why the first line is
"a small team of individuals volunteer their time to manage and develop
the site".  Note also that it says that "As the site and community
grows, a more formal governance structure may be required".

I agree that consensus is a rather strong form of governance, but it's
also not been a barrier so far.  I'd very much like to see ocaml.org
remove as many blockers to external contributors as possible, particularly
in the realm of translations.  To address your short-term concern
about diversity, would anyone from OCamlPro or INRIA Gallium be willing
to step into the team?


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