[ocaml-infra] ocaml.org licensing

Amir Chaudhry amirmc at gmail.com
Thu Feb 27 00:48:29 GMT 2014

[As this is a licensing discussion, I'm only replying to those points. Any governance questions can and should be discussed separately, at a later date].

On 26 Feb 2014, at 16:57, Anil Madhavapeddy <avsm2 at cl.cam.ac.uk> wrote:

> 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.

I agree that this is a good point.  I think it reduces complexity to consider everything under "*.ocaml.org" (as Anil mentions).  That's how I've been thinking of it so far but it's good to clarify.

Eventually, I expect most of the content under opam.ocaml.org to be automatically generated from the opam repository with the addition of documentation pages (i.e installation) and perhaps even a dashboard view of activity in the repo.  Since opam-repo content should already have license information it's only the additional content that would fall under the *.ocaml.org licensing scheme.  At the moment it's not clear how this is currently licensed as it's generated from the wiki pages [0], which are separate.  Clarification on this would be useful.

[0] https://github.com/ocaml/opam/wiki

>> 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?).

The question of *who* the contributors are is very straightforward as we have git logs of all activity [1].  You can even see this per page if you wish [2]. It is those contributors ('Licensors') who would be asked to license their contributions under the scheme proposed.

Even if we did have a legal entity behind the *.ocaml.org infrastructure and sites, I still believe the above is the correct way to deal with *volunteer* contributions.  They should not be obliged to relinquish all rights to a private third party.  Note that what I'm suggesting is the same as the Haskell wiki, except their scheme is to put everything in the public domain instead (it's still the case that no third party owns the contribution).  

Please be aware that speculative discussions about specific legal jurisdictions will not progress this discussion in any meaningful way.  There are approx 206 countries [3] and we do not have the resources or legal manpower to examine any of them in any great detail (just like every other volunteer project).  The licenses proposed are all commonly used so any issues that arise with them will affect a large number of other open-source projects.  We would not be alone in having to deal with any issues.  Indeed, we would benefit from the work other projects may do in this regard.

[1] https://github.com/ocaml/ocaml.org/commits/master
[2] https://github.com/ocaml/ocaml.org/commits/master/site/index.md
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states

Best wishes,

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