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Jasig Licensing Policy

As a community organization supporting open source software development, Jasig uses a set of licenses, agreements, and policies to manage its software projects and the intellectual property surrounding them. These help us to provide proper governance and sustainability to these projects.

1. Licensing

Jasig has adopted the licensing practices of the Apache Software Foundation. Jasig also follows the ASF in many of its intellectual property management policies and in its community project structures.

Specifically, the default software license for all Jasig projects is the Apache License, Version 2.0. In the absence of an explicit licensing declaration, all software released by Jasig is implicitly licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0. More specific information about the Apache License is available in the Apache License and Distribution FAQ.

2. Contributor Agreements

Jasig requires that all project contributors complete a Contributor License Agreement (CLA). The CLA clearly defines the terms under which intellectual property is being contributed, and affords Jasig greater latitude to provide comprehensive governance over the project.

The Contributor License Agreement enables Jasig to update the licensing of its projects, when necessary or desirable, while maintaining the provenance of the code, and the rights of Jasig, as well as those of the contributors and adopters of this code.

The CLA also makes it possible for Jasig, at its corporate discretion, to defend the project, and/or its contributors and adopters, should the project become the subject of any claim or dispute, legal or otherwise.

In all cases, contributors retain full rights to use their original contributions for any other purpose, while providing Jasig and its projects the right to distribute and extend their contributed work.

Individuals must have an Individual Contributor License Agreement (ICLA) on file with Jasig before any significant contributions will be accepted and before commit privileges will be granted on Jasig projects.

Organizations that have tasked employees to work on a Jasig project should also complete a Corporate Contributor License Agreement (CCLA) so intellectual property that may have been assigned as part of an employment agreement can still be properly contributed. Individuals still need to submit an ICLA, even when their organizations has completed a CCLA. Individuals are responsible for making sure their organization has completed a CCLA if their contributions are owned by their employer.

When an individual or corporation donates existing software or documentation to a Jasig project, they need to execute a formal Software Grant License Agreement (SGLA) with Jasig. Incubating projects with preexisting codebases are required to execute the Jasig SGLA prior to formal acceptance as sponsored Jasig project.

Contributor License Agreements may be submitted to Jasig in the following way:

  • Postal Mail
    • Jasig Licensing
    • P.O. Box 351989
    • Westminster, CO 80035-1989
    • USA
  • Fax
    • Attention: Jasig Licensing
    • +1-303-495-3812
  • Email

Historical Note: Some Jasig projects were previously managed under the New BSD License. Contributions to these projects were then accepted under the terms of that license. For historical purposes, the New BSD License is broadly interpreted as the Contributor License Agreement for those contributions, and those projects still honor all the terms of that License. New contributions to any Jasig project are now only accepted with an ICLA, CCLA, or SGLA in place first.

3. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1. Why has Jasig adopted the Apache License?

First, Jasig strongly support the use of mainstream software licenses that have been approved by both the Free Software Foundation and the Open Source Initiative. Jasig also feels that License Proliferation is a problem and that all Free / Open Source Software (FOSS) projects should endeavor to use the widely-adopted, well-understood license that best meets their needs.

Second, since Jasig projects are frequently combined with other open source projects, Jasig wanted to select a license that is widely compatible with those projects and that is generally as permissive as possible. At the same time Jasig wanted to move to a comprehensive license that provides appropriate protections for both contributors and adopters of open source. After reviewing all the mainstream open source licenses, it was clear that the Apache License best fits Jasig's needs.

Q2. Why not adopt a copyleft license like the GNU General Public License (GPL)?

Jasig support the ideas behind "copyleft" and believe that free software should stay free. However, many of the communities and projects that Jasig regularly collaborates with currently avoid copyleft protection for their projects because they perceive it as a barrier to widespread adoption. Specifically, the "viral" nature of copyleft licenses like the GNU General Public License is viewed negatively by many. In the interests of continued symbiotic relationships with these projects and to promote adoption of Jasig projects as widely as possible, Jasig is not using copyleft licenses.

Jasig does strongly encourage anyone who improves upon a Jasig project to contribute those changes back to the community. This is mutually beneficial since the community gets a better project and the contributor does not have to maintain a diverging codebase.

Q3. Why not adopt the Educational Community License (ECL)?

The Educational Community License v2 (ECL) is identical to the Apache License v2, except for a minor change in section 3 that narrows the conditions of any implicit patent grant. This change was requested by some institutions participating in some key projects specific to higher education. Only the Sakai project and the Kuali projects appear to use the ECL at this time.

Jasig projects have tended to be more infrastructure focused and are not exclusive to the domain of higher education. Jasig did not want to adopt the ECL because its relative obscurity outside higher education would be a barrier to widespread adoption of Jasig projects. Jasig also notes that several other infrastructure projects in higher education, such as Fluid and Shibboleth, have also avoided the ECL and have adopted the Apache License.

Q4. Why not continue to use the New BSD License as previously used by Jasig projects?

The New BSD License is a very simple and straightforward open source license. Its simplicity is both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. This license simply does not provide enough protection for either contributors or adopters to really understand the terms under which the software is being shared. Jasig wanted to move to a more comprehensive license that fully defined the nature of the agreement and provided clearer protection to all the parties involved.

Q5. Why is Jasig requiring Contributor License Agreements (CLAs)?

There are two main reasons that Jasig requires Contributor License Agreements before accepting contributions to its projects.

The first reason for requiring CLAs is to provide proper legal protection to the contributors and the adopters of the projects. CLAs protect contributors by explicitly making it clear what the terms and conditions are for properly contributing to a project, thereby avoiding any confusion or misunderstandings between the contributor, the project, and the community. CLAs protect adopters of the project by ensuring that the contributions that make up the project are legitimately and appropriate licensed all the way from the contributor to the adopter. Furthermore, CLAs give Jasig better legal standing to defend against violations of the project license, providing protection for both contributors and adopters.

The second reason for requiring CLAs is to allow Jasig to better ensure the sustainability of the project. In the future, there may be unforeseen needs to adjust the licensing of Jasig projects. Without appropriate CLAs in place for all contributions, Jasig would have to seek individual permission from all past contributors in order to make changes to the licensing of the overall project - this could prove impossible in a long-running project with hundreds of contributors. The Mozilla Relicensing effort serves as a cautionary tale as to what can happen to projects that do not have central governance with the ability to adjust project licensing.

Q6. How do CLAs benefit developers?

As mentioned in some of the earlier questions this policy benefits developers in two ways:

  1. The Apache License is a comprehensive license that fully defines the nature of the agreement between the developers of the software and the users of the software and thereby provides clearer protection to all the parties involved, including developers.
  2. The Jasig CLAs provide explicit assertions about the standing of the contributor to make the contribution, the provenance of the contribution, and the terms and conditions under which the contribution is being made to Jasig. This clarity provides better protection to the developers and their contributions.

Q7. How do CLAs benefit users?

As mentioned in some of the earlier questions this policy benefits users in two ways:

  1. The Apache License is a comprehensive license that fully defines the nature of the agreement between the developers of the software and the users of the software and thereby provides clearer protection to all the parties involved, including users.
  2. The Jasig CLAs provide explicit assertions about the standing of the contributor to make the contribution, the provenance of the contribution, and the terms and conditions under which the contribution is being made to Jasig. This clarity provides better protection to the users because there is an explicit licensing chain fully connecting the copyright holders and the end users.

Q8. Whom should I contact with questions about Jasig licensing or intellectual property?

Simply send an email to licensing@jasig.org and someone from Jasig will respond to your question as soon as possible.

 

You can also find more information about our licensing policies in our community wiki.