IBM passes open source license baton to Eclipse

IBM passes open source license baton to Eclipse

Summary: IBM and the Eclipse Foundation have taken a stand against license proliferation by announcing today that the Common Public License (CPL) has been officially superseded by the Eclipse Public License (EPL). The CPL will no longer be considered an active open source license, but there's an easy migration path for CPL code to transition to EPL.

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IBM and the Eclipse Foundation have taken a stand against license proliferation by announcing today that the Common Public License (CPL) has been officially superseded by the Eclipse Public License (EPL). The CPL will no longer be considered an active open source license, but there's an easy migration path for CPL code to transition to EPL.

Mike Milinkovich, executive director for life of the Eclipse Foundation (just kidding Mike) broke the news today in his blog. He writes:

License proliferation in open source is a real issue. It costs businesses to review multiple licenses, and the plethora of licenses can be confusing to someone starting a new open source project.

Over the past five years we have seen the Eclipse Foundation go from a good idea that might work to one of the most successful open source communities out there. We have seen the Symbian Foundation adopt the EPL as its license, thereby bringing a huge community and code base in its own right to the EPL, plus demonstrating the utility of the license well outside of the Java domain that it is best known in. More recently, Google also added the EPL as one of the licenses it supports on Google Code. It is clear that if we wanted to consolidate on one license, that the EPL made the most sense.

So what does this mean for projects such as Mondrian which are distributed under the CPL? Well, nothing has to happen -- you can continue to use a dead license if you want. But because EPL has been denoted as the formal "successor version of the CPL" you can use a provision already in the CPL to switch. Section 7 says:

In addition, after a new version of the Agreement is published, Contributor may elect to distribute the Program (including its Contributions) under the new version.

EPL 1.0 is considered the "new version" of CPL 1.0 under OSI rules.

The two licenses were very close anyway. Other than their names and (previously) their Agreement Stewards, the only real difference was the way the patent license termination clause was written. That clause, which has never been invoked as far as I know, covers what happens in the event of a patent lawsuit. For more information on the relationship between the CPL and the EPL see the EPL FAQ.

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Topics: IBM, Legal, Open Source, Software, Software Development

Ed Burnette

About Ed Burnette

Ed Burnette is a software industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience as a programmer, author, and speaker. He has written numerous technical articles and books, most recently "Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform" from the Pragmatic Programmers.

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3 comments
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  • Why not drop BOTH of them?

    If you really want to reduce the number of open-source licenses, why not go with a "more established" OS license? You don't have to go GPL, but there is Apache and BSD. What does EPL give you that those do not?
    Roger Ramjet
    • Why not

      EPL is significantly different from both Apache and BSD because EPL has a (weak) copyleft.
      mattflaschen
  • RE: IBM passes open source license baton to Eclipse

    "EPL 1.0 is considered the ?new version? of CPL 1.0 under OSI rules."

    It has nothing to do with the OSI, only with the text of the CPL license. However, personally I don't think it's a new version, as CPL explicitly requires new versions to have a different version number (and presumably be called CPL). And Eclipse was not Steward when EPL 1.0 was released.
    mattflaschen