[RCD] Upgrading the Roundcube License

Andreas Dick andudi at gmx.ch
Mon Nov 28 20:57:40 CET 2011

hei core devs
for me it does not matter, as long as it sounds like open source!
thanks for all your work!

Am Montag, 28. November 2011, 20.27:02 schrieb Thomas Bruederli:
> Hi folks,
> Some time ago we already had a discussion about possible license
> changes. See
> http://lists.roundcube.net/mail-archive/dev/2010-01/0000022.html to refresh
> your memory.
> Now, almost two years later we came to the conclusion that it's time to act.
> But let me describe our thoughts a bit more:
> Current Situation
> =================
> Roundcube has inherited and built upon code from a variety of
> projects, allowing it to grow quickly to the solution we all love
> today. In doing so, it has effectively also inherited its licensing
> policy from projects which were not handling these issues as carefully
> as one might have wished.
> These projects have often done a "licensed under the GNU General
> Public License (GPL)" without an explicit version. Sometimes this
> statement was accompanied with a link to a web page, most importantly
> http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl. This link was pointing at version 2
> of the GPL, but it is the link that always leads to the latest
> version, so right now is pointing to GPL version 3. And so did
> Roundcube itself.
> This, and the provisions in GPLv2 which say that you may at your
> option choose a later version if there is no explicit version
> mentioned means that right now Roundcube is "GPL v2 or v3, either may
> be binding for you depending on how you got it" and would *not* allow
> proprietary extensions and modules and may or may not allow
> proprietary skins, depending on your interpretation.
> This is clearly not a perfect situation and it doesn't reflect the
> consensus within the Roundcube community (especially after the last
> licensing discussion) that proprietary modules (plugins) should be
> allowed, as should be proprietary skins. We meanwhile have specified
> Version 2 in our source but some links still point to the above
> mentioned URL which now shows Version 3 of the GPL.
> So it would make a lot of sense to clarify this explicitly.
> At the same time, the possibility of Roundcube being under GPLv2
> blocks some innovation we would like to do for future versions, such
> as for example inline ODF support through WebODF, which is licensed
> under the GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL) Version 3.
> Background information for the interested
> =========================================
> * GNU General Public License (GPL) Version 2:
>   https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html
> * GNU General Public License (GPL) Version 3:
>   https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-3.0.html
> * A Quick Guide to GPLv3:
>   https://www.gnu.org/licenses/quick-guide-gplv3.html
> * GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL) Version 3:
>   https://www.gnu.org/licenses/agpl-3.0.html
> * Frequently Asked Questions about the GNU Licenses:
>   https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html
> Proposed license clarification
> ==============================
> Because of the incorporated numerous other components, the only
> options for licenses
> are in the GNU GPL family, namely GNU GPLv2, GNU GPLv3, GNU AGPLv3.
> In order to become license compatible with some of the technologies we
> would like to be able to use in order to improve Roundcube, we should
> at the very least choose GNU GPL version 3.
> We could also choose GNU AGPLv3, which would provide more rights to
> the users of Roundcube. It would mean that all users have the right to
> obtain the code of the instance that is providing their service (minus
> the additional modules, of course).
> It would also ensure that modifications on the basic Roundcube
> codebase will have to be made available as soon as the are being used
> to provide services over the internet, not just when they are
> distributed in other ways.
> This is the first choice we have.
> Personally I'm okay with either, but as the recent discussion showed
> us, there are some arguments against the AGPL option. I would,
> however, in any case suggest we explicitly leave the "or any later
> version" default in, so future license updates won't require us to
> look at this again.
> Secondly, if we want to allow proprietary modules and skins, which has
> turned out to be a major concern of our "users", we should add the
> explicit permission to create modules under any license, including a
> proprietary one, which can be done through the following exception to
> GPLv3 or AGPLv3:
>      This file forms part of the Roundcube Platform for which the
>      following exception is added: Plug-ins and Skins which merely
>      make function calls to the Roundcube Platform, and for that
>      purpose include it by reference shall not be considered
>      modifications of the Platform.
>      If you wish to use this file in another project or create a
>      modified version that will not be part of the Roundcube Platform,
>      you may remove the exception above and use this source code under
>      the original version of the license.
> The first paragraph provides the permission.
> The second paragraph allows re-use of Roundcube's code in other
> projects without the additional permission. Otherwise it would be too
> easy to circumvent the license and re-use may be limited by the
> licenses of the projects that wish to re-use code.
> The Way forward
> ===============
> Because the Copyright in Roundcube is not consolidated, making these
> updates requires the agreement of all contributors to Roundcube.
> So if you have in the past contributed to Roundcube, we would very
> much like to ask you for your explicit agreement with this path
> forward and your preference with regards AGPLv3 / GPLv3, and whether
> you would exclude one or the other, and for which reasons.
> We believe this primarily represents a clarification and an adjustment
> to what we practiced over the past years, and we hope that you will
> also see it that way.
> But of course we cannot force anyone to agree, so for those who prefer
> to have their code removed from Roundcube rather than agree to the
> update, please let us know.
> Timing
> ======
> This will not affect the 0.7 release, which will still take place
> under the somewhat fuzzy licensing situation, but we'll want to apply
> this to HEAD so we can make sure all code is properly updated and
> conflicting code replaced before the 0.8 release.
> Please let us know, what you think about this proposal.
> Best regards,
> Thomas
> _______________________________________________
> List info: http://lists.roundcube.net/dev/
> BT/f0a00374
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