A few weeks ago, OpenNTF's Board unanimously approved an update to the Intellectual Property Policy. I know – people's eyes glaze over when you talk about IP issues and open source – however, these changes are going to affect the look and feel of the site, and perhaps the way you use OpenNTF contributions.

The main thrust of the changes is replacing the concept of the “Catalog” with the concept of “Clearing” releases. Before, any project release that was cleared was then placed into the Apache or GPL Catalog. However, most people had no idea what it meant if a release was in the Catalog. So, we are simply tagging every release so that you can easily see if it has been “cleared” or not.

And what does it mean when something is cleared? Well, we do a code scan of the release to check that:
the contributors are all covered by an ICLA or CCLA;
any 3rd party code is listed in the Notice file – along with information on its license;
that the licenses for any 3rd party code are open source and compatible;
and that there is some documentation for the release.

Coupled with this change in the IP Policy is a change in the look and feel associated with accessing releases.

1. Code downloads will only be accessible from pages that contain the license information for the release, (ie Apache or GPL) and whether the code has been cleared. This improves the visibility of the code clearance.

2. The clearance flag will have a link to a description of what clearance means.

3. Once a release is cleared - no-one can modify it (without creating a new release).

Note that no clearance process is infallible. It is always possible that inappropriatly licensed code escapes detection. So, as it states in the IP Policy - “The licensee is also solely responsible for determining the appropriateness of using and distributing the code and assumes all risks associated with its use of the code“.

As always – let me know if you have any questions about OpenNTF IP issues.

Peter Tanner
IP Manager
OpenNTF, Inc.

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