By webmink on Mar 06, 2008
You may recall that a team from Sun devoted a great deal of time to the process of drafting the GPLv3. Our engagement was not just the monitoring exercise that I suspect it was for many of the corporate participants. It was always my hope that Sun would use the license for significant software projects.
Since then, the FSF has made some welcome clarifications to the license and Sun released its first project, Openxvm, as GPLv3. The next step for us has been to review the licensing for OpenOffice.org. We consulted widely in the community and received an overwhelming response on a number of proposed modifications to the project, starting with the license. The LGPL has served OpenOffice.org well, so the move to LGPL v3 seemed very logical. LGPLv3 is actually almost identical to GPLv3, but with an additional clause limiting the scope of the requirement to release source code under the same license.
Upgrading to the LGPLv3 brings important new protections to the OpenOffice.org community, most notably through the new language concerning software patents. You may know that I am personally an opponent of software patents, and that Sun has already taken steps in this area with a patent non-assert covenant for ODF. But the most important protection for developers comes from creating mutual patent grants between developers. LGPLv3 does this.
So it's a pleasure to be able to say that Sun supports the community's input. OpenOffice.org's license will change to LGPLv3 as part of a broader set of changes intended to improve the OpenOffice.org community for everyone. Those changes also include a switch to the latest version of the standard Sun contributor agreement, with an addendum specifically tailored to the needs of the OpenOffice.org community. There's increased latitude for documentation writers to publish their work on OpenOffice.org. And in future, plugins for OpenOffice.org may host their source code directly on the community site without copyright being shared, helping collaboration within the community.
There's more news about OpenOffice.org's infrastructure as well as the project's governance - see Jim's blog for more detail as well as Louis' community announcement. For all the details, you can listen to a discussion Barton George had with Michael Bemmer, the development director of OpenOffice.org at Sun, his boss Jim Parkinson, and with Peter Brown, Executive Director of the Free Software Foundation, on this podcast: [MP3]-[Ogg].