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From Mike Jumper <>
Subject Re: Is it ok to put ASF header onto ALv2 compatibly licensed code?
Date Wed, 10 Aug 2016 00:21:00 GMT
On Tue, Aug 9, 2016 at 4:46 PM, Roman Shaposhnik <> wrote:
> On Tue, Aug 9, 2016 at 2:48 PM, Mike Jumper <> wrote:
>> On Tue, Aug 9, 2016 at 2:23 PM, Roman Shaposhnik <> wrote:
>>> ...
>>> =======================================================
>>> Licensed to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) under one
>>> or more contributor license agreements.  See the NOTICE file
>>> distributed with this work for additional information
>>> regarding copyright ownership.
>>> =======================================================
>>> There are two way I can see how to read this "Licensed to..." statement.
>>> The first one is, indeed, along the lines of an original author re-licensing
>>> code under a different license.
>> I don't think this can be read that way. The quoted portion refers
>> only to the software being licensed to the ASF, not the ASF
>> re-licensing the software under a different license. The relevant text
>> for that normally immediately follows the quoted portion:
>> "... The ASF licenses this file to you under the Apache License,
>> Version 2.0 (the 'License'); ..."
>>> Clearly, only original author(s) can make that statement.
>> Not necessarily. The original license may allow for third-parties to
>> sublicense the code, given restrictions.
> To me, the most thorny question in this is around what I would call
> 'default rights'. IOW, is the only way to allow for third parties to
> sublicense is to clearly state it in the license text or does the reverse
> apply (third party can always sublicense unless explicitly prohibited
> by the license text)?

I believe the only default is the protection under copyright itself.
That is, rights may be granted by the copyright holder to others via a
copyright license (like the Apache License), but otherwise only the
copyright holder has any such rights.

> On top of which, the difference between re-licensing vs. sublicensing
> seems to be of interest here as well.

Re-licensing is re-releasing the work under a new, different license,
independent of whatever license it was available under before. "I am
giving you access to this work under these terms."

Sublicensing is releasing the work under another license, but within
the terms of the license that originally applied. "You are already
given access to this work under these terms. In addition, I am giving
you access to this work under THESE terms."

> Do you think that ALv2 header the way it is written implies re-licensing
> or sublicensing?


"2. Grant of Copyright License. Subject to the terms and conditions of
this License, each Contributor hereby grants to You a perpetual,
worldwide, non-exclusive, no-charge, royalty-free, irrevocable
copyright license to reproduce, prepare Derivative Works of, publicly
display, publicly perform, sublicense, and distribute the Work and
such Derivative Works in Source or Object form."

> To illustrate the difference lets take the most liberal license of all (MIT).
> There's nothing preventing sublicensing OR re-licensing in the text of the
> license itself, but at the same time the FAQ makes it pretty clear that one
> is allowed and the other one is not:

Like the Apache License, the MIT license explicitly grants permission
to sublicense:

"... including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify,
merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the
Software ..."

I don't believe they need to explicitly specify that they do not grant
permission to re-license the software. If the right to re-license was
a default, any restrictions imposed by a copyright license would be
easily circumvented by re-licensing under a license without those

> Suppose I have a source file under MIT license and all I want to do is
> to add a bit of
> verbiage that, when distributed as part of the ASF project, the code
> is redistributed (NOT
> re-licensed) under the ALv2 (on top of originally being available
> under the MIT license).
> It seems like there's no ASF-sanctioned way for me to make that statement, since
> ALv2 header will imply re-licensing.

The issue I had with the proposed wording was not that it implies
re-licensing (I believe it implies sublicensing), but rather that it
implies things that are false (unless the work was indeed licensed to
the ASF by the original authors under a CLA).

If it's not licensed under a CLA to the ASF, I'd think the file would
need to be licensed under the Apache license just like any other
non-ASF code:

In the case of MIT-licensed code, you would need to also maintain
their original notice and copyright, as required by the MIT license.

- Mike

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