[opam-devel] Opam license bug

David Allsopp dra-news at metastack.com
Mon Jan 18 19:57:29 GMT 2016

For what it's worth...

I agree that starting to have to sign CLAs, etc. leaves a funny taste in the mouth. Daniel has an important point about lawyers, etc. that using a well-known open source licence is a much easier thing to sign up to. The licences tend to be short (or in the GPL's case, very well-explained). Once you start having to sign CLAs, one has to worry about how much one has signed away - for example, while I'm sure yours doesn't, it's quite easy to sign a CLA where you actually transfer so many rights that you lose control over reusing your own code fragments yourself. It's also much easier just to be requiring that everyone use git commit -s rather than actually administering contracts!

OCaml already has a requirement for a CLA, but it's reserved for large contributions only - if there must be CLAs, could such an arrangement be explicitly copied?


> -----Original Message-----
> From: opam-devel [mailto:opam-devel-bounces at lists.ocaml.org] On Behalf Of
> Thomas Gazagnaire
> Sent: 18 January 2016 19:34
> To: Daniel Bünzli
> Cc: Louis Gesbert; opam-devel
> Subject: Re: [opam-devel] Opam license bug
> Honestly, if we are speaking about re-licensing opam, I am really much in
> favour of a more liberal license: MIT or BSD is so much simpler than
> LGPL+CLA, and we don't really need to make the barrier for contributing
> higher.
> Being there at the beginning, I understand the initial choice of license:
> at the time, the scope of what was being building was not totally clear,
> opam was the first large independent software project developed by
> OCamlPro the company was very young and some kind of protection were
> needed. Nowadays, I think opam is in a very different different situation:
> it became the default package manager for OCaml.
> So I'd rather look at the next steps at how we can now make opam more
> widespread. For instance,  lower the contribution barrier: simpler and
> more re-usable code, more documentation, simpler licensing scheme (BSD is
> the new norm); and  make it fully OCaml independent: in the source code
> but also in the manual, and on its own website (generated from GH pages,
> with manual + roadmap). Lastly, we need all which was discussed on the
> roadmap for 1.3, including windows support :-)
> Best,
> Thomas
> > Le lundi, 18 janvier 2016 à 19:09, Louis Gesbert a écrit :
> >> By having a CLA in place, we ensure we have the hands free to avoid
> >> any further such issues: the problem can't arise again. Yes, it does
> >> allow us to re-license the software, or even negociate specific
> >> licensing terms with partners, which sounds quite fair to me. Also,
> >> this adds to the range of theoretical possibilities, but we currently
> have no plans to monetize Opam.
> >
> > So let's be honest about it. From the community point of view there are
> very little incentives to this solution. License changes are rare.
> >
> >> I am curious and would be glad to hear more about it: I intuitively
> >> don't see much difference between submitting a contribution
> >> BSD-licensed or under the terms of the CLA, from the company's point of
> view. Am I wrong ?
> >
> > Yes.
> >
> > Opam is LGPL'ed, contributing under the terms of the CLA allows OCamlPro
> to do whatever it wishes with opam and the contributions. But you as a
> contributor are not allowed to do whatever you wish since you are bound by
> LGPL terms. If Opam was under a more liberal license, everyone could do
> whatever it wishes with the code and we'd no even need to have a
> discussion about a CLA.
> >
> > Also from a broader perspective, companies may have rules that say you
> are allowed to contribute to projects that have these specific kind of
> licenses. Having other legalities under the form of CLAs surrounding
> contribution may be a no go because the legal setting is non standard or
> would need to much legal investigations.
> >
> > Best,
> >
> > Daniel
> >
> >
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