Apache Software Foundation Considers New Licenses

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The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has announced that it's considering adoption of new licenses for its open source offerings, and has invited users to participate in a public discussion in the lead-up to the ApacheCon conference. New licenses for the Apache Software Foundation will keep the group's offerings open source, but should provide more clarity for would-be contributors and developers using ASF code.

The Apache Software License, though open source, is less restrictive than the GNU Public License in that it permits companies to make proprietary enhancements to software it covers without having to share their changes. It does require developers reusing its source code to give the foundation credit.

According to a message sent out by ASF Director Roy Fielding, the new licenses are not meant not to change the open source nature of the foundation's projects. Instead, they're intended to offer simpler, documents that clarify the use of Apache Software Foundation source code in commercial contexts, clarify the process under which companies may donate source code to ASF projects, and offer more compatibility with existing open source licenses such as the Free Software Foundation's GNU Public License, in use throughout much of the Linux world.

"The result should be a license that is compatible with other open source licenses, such as the GPL, and yet still remains true to the original goals of the Apache Group and supportive of collaborative development across both nonprofit and commercial organizations," wrote Fielding. He also noted that the new licenses are meant to cut down on the frequent questions the ASF processes from companies and individuals uncertain of how the Apache Software License applies to their projects.

The discussions are taking place over the "license" mailing list at apache.org, where they're publicly archived.

ApacheCon runs next week, from November 16-19, in conjunction with technology trade show COMDEX.

This article was originally published on Nov 11, 2003
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