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At the beginning of 2012, 52°North updated the Bylaws to consider some developments in 52°North's policies and procedures and to improve the text in terms of readability and clearness . The most important change was the new licensing policy. This has paved the way for using OSI approved non-copyleft licenses rather than the strict GPL license, which has been 52°North's standard OS license type to date.

As a result, 52°North has adapted the contributor’s license agreement (CLA) to the new licensing policy. The CLA is the contract between contributors and 52°North, which grants 52°North the rights needed to manage and sublicense software contributions as part of the 52°North software stack. Whereas the previous version of the CLA required contributors to grant exclusive rights to 52°North, the new version just requires non-exclusive rights. This change slightly constrains the possibilities of 52°North, to handle copyright infringements, but improves the acceptability of the CLA terms to people who would like to contribute to the 52°North code base, but who are reluctant to give a way exclusive rights.

All developers, who wish to contribute software to the 52°North code base after December 1, 2012 will have to sign the new CLA before submitting contributions. Please follow the CLA guidelines. All contributions, which have been submitted before, will be treated according to the terms of the previous license agreement.

FAQ

We have provided an FAQ list for your convenience.

  1. Why does 52°North change its licensing?
  2. What are the major changes/ differences compared to the former License Agreement?
  3. Do the full rights still reside with the Contributor?
  4. Why do I, as Contributor, have to transfer any rights to 52°North at all?
  5. Does 52°North have to publish each contribution under the GNU GPLV2?
  6. How do you choose the license?
  7. What is the advantage of using Apache 2.0 as compared to GPL?
  8. What are these Open Source licenses anyway?
  9. What is meant by “publish” in section 5.2?
  10. When do I need to sign a CLA?
  11. What is the procedure for signing a CLA?
  12. Do I have to print and send the document, or can I send you a scanned copy?

 

  1. Why does 52°North change its licensing?
    We would like to provide potential users maximum degrees of freedom to use, adapt and redistribute the software and derivative works in any combination with other software. The former license agreement focussed only on the GPL license, which demands that all derivative work be published under GPL again (copyleft type of license). With the new CLA we are able to publish the software under any OSI certified license, i.e. we can use also non-copyleft licenses such as Apache 2.0. Furthermore, we would like to make it easier for developers/contributors to sign the CLA. In contrast to the old CLA, which asked for the transfer of the exclusive rights, we now just collect the non-exclusive rights.

  2. What are the major changes/ differences compared to the former License Agreement?
    1. The former license agreement focussed only on the GPL license. With the new CLA we are able to publish the software under any OSI certified license.
    2. Transfer of non-exclusive rights. With the new CLA, 52°North collects the non-exclusive rights of all Contributors. This was not the case in the past. In the past, the user transferred the exclusive rights to 52°North.

  3. Do the full rights still reside with the Contributor?
    Yes. The new CLA does not ask for the transfer of exclusive rights to 52°North, so the full rights remain with the contributor.

  4. Why do I, as Contributor, have to transfer any rights to 52°North at all?
    This enables 52°North
    1. to work with the contribution, i.e. to reproduce, to modify, to create derivative works and to combine the contribution with other software code;
    2. to grant the Open Source License to potential users;
    3. to change the terms of the Open Source License for a particular software project if necessary, such as we do now by introducing non-copyleft licenses for parts of the 52°North software stack;
    4. to exceptionally grant additional licenses with individual terms and conditions if required (e.g. for granting a commercial license to a software, which is published only under GPL; this will be less relevant when changing to non-copyleft licenses).

  5. Does 52°North have to publish each contribution under the GNU GPLV2?
    No, the new CLA does not oblige 52°North to publish each contribution under GNU GPL V2. However, some 52°North software will still be published under GNU GPL V2, e.g. software that is dependent on libraries, which are published under GPL.

  6. How do you choose the license?
    We prefer to use the non-copyleft license Apache 2.0, however, we will have to consider the license terms of software-components, which are used within the respective piece of 52°North software. Hence the actual license type chosen may vary to comply with these terms. Existing software projects will continue to work with their current license type until the 52°North community, which maintains this piece of software, decides to change it.

  7. What is the advantage of using Apache 2.0 as compared to GPL?
    The GPL license demands that all derivative work be published under GPL again (copyleft type of license). Non-copyleft licenses such as Apache 2.0 are less restrictive. They allow you to reuse the open software code free of charge, for non-commercial, as well as, for commercial purposes, mixed with open source and proprietary code.

  8. What are these Open Source licenses anyway?
    Please take a look at these external resources for further information regarding
    1. the GPL license.
    2. the Apache license.
  9. What is meant by “publish” in section 5.2 “In case 52°North does not publish the Contribution within two (2) months after the Contributor has transmitted the Contribution to 52°North, all rights and licenses granted to 52°North under Section 3 of this Agreement will expire automatically.”?
    Publishing means, making the software available to the public under an open source license. This happens as soon as the code appears in the public SVN. Documentation is published as soon as it appears in a public Wiki, blog or web page.

  10. When do I need to sign a CLA?
    In general you need to sign a CLA before submitting a contribution to the 52°North software stack and its documentation. Just in the exceptional case that you are acting on behalf of a certain organization only and not for yourself, we would need to receive a CLA of this organization and a confirmation that you are acting on their behalf. But please be aware that you would not be allowed to submit other contributions than those of this organization.

  11. What is the procedure for signing a CLA?
    Please follow the instructions in the CLA Guidelines.

  12. Do I have to print and send the document, or can I send you a scanned copy?
    Yes, you must mail us the original copies (2). The CLA is a legal document and currently a digital version does not suffice.


Affiliations

The 52° North affiliations:

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Cooperation Partners

The 52°North principal cooperation partners

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