[Mono-list] Lisencing

Miguel de Icaza miguel@ximian.com
07 Jan 2002 15:21:04 -0500

> VA Linux stopped open source development on SourceForge recently.  They
> are now developing and marketing a new version of SourceForge that is
> not open source.  Under the license SourceForge was developed this was
> allowed, but surprised some contributors and fragmented the open source
> part of project (or so I have been led to believe).  My hope is to
> develop a clear understanding of what assurances Ximian and the Mono
> license gives to contributors.

SourceForge owned the copyright of their code, and they can license it
under any terms they see fit (indeed, this is a strategy for things like
SleepyCat, Ghostscript and other projects which have a dual open
source/proprietary nature).  Now, the code that SourceForge developed is
out there, and can be maintained independently of whatever VA Linux

Sure, you lost the VA Linux contributions (if nobody contributed, then
you lost it all, but then you did not have any rights over the code

It seems to me that VA still maintains the Open Source edition, is just
that the major features are going into their proprietary product.

> I am not a lawyer but am under the impression that the GPL requires that
> all code derived from GPL licensed code to remain open source.  I
> understand, partially from Yonas post that the GPL also may have a
> negative impact on a project due to this or similar restrictions.

Oh, I see where the miss-understanding comes from.

A copyright owner can license the code under any licenses that they see
fit.  I can license one for `Use only on airplanes' and another one
`only for paying customers' and another one under `you can use only for
a week' and another one under the GPL.

Each different copy has different licensing terms.  The GPL version is
subject to the GPL licensing terms.  Just like the airplane version is
subject to its own terms (it would be a violation to run the airplane
license on a boat).  Since you own the copyright you can do anything you

Now, if you have a *combined* work (work from two developers for
example), you need every developer to agree to license the code under
both changes.  If VA Linux owned all the code for their proprietary
code, they have the right to do anything they please with the code.

Now, you still have the GPL edition.  If you care so much about VA
taking code proprietary, then you should take the old GPL code base, and
maintain it with a group of likely minded people.

> I have faith that Ximian has the best of intentions.  I am confused
> somewhat by the license and hope to have clarified:
> 1. Ximian's intentions for the code contributors write for Mono.
> 2. The assurances Mono contributors' receive from the license.

Ximian owns the whole copyright to:

	The Mono C# compiler.
	The runtime engine.

We are copyright co-owners with many contributors on:

	The class libraries.

Ximian might relicense any of the code it owns under different licenses
(this for example enabled us to develop the Exchange plugin for
Evolution, which is a proprietary plugin). 

We also ask contributors to the Mono C# compiler and the runtime engine
to assign the copyright to Ximian (so far, we have got two copyright
assignments: one for the compiler, and one for the runtime engine). 

The code we have written is all open source.  If we decided to have a
non-open source code base, you can *always* fork the code (you could
start for example by doing nightly mirrors of our snapshots ;-).  

Forking the code base is a normal practice in these cases.  For example,
OpenSSH is a new SSH implementation that comes from the original
non-proprietary SSH implementation. 

Hope this answers your questions,