Skip to main content

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index] [List Home]
RE: [] One More Final Word on Legal Stuff

Hi Bjorn & Janet,


I’m going to play the “I’m just an incubating project” card as a cover up for my confusion and ignorance.


IMO, the guide to legal documentation is hard to follow because it’s written from the wrong perspective.  We’re engineers, not lawyers.  Give us a formula and we’ll follow it.  The guide should be written like this: “here’s what your project directory structure should look like” followed by “here’s what each of those files is for”.  At best, it’s currently backwards.  There are even two directory structure examples that are incomplete in their overall content.


I’m merged the two directory structure examples from 4.2 (Abouts) and 4.3 (Features).  Here’s what I got.  I’ve inserted what I think it missing in Red. 


eclipse                                                  (installation root directory)

    notice.html                                     Software User Agreement

    epl-v10.html                                 EPL (referenced by SUA)

    plugins                                              (plug-ins and fragments directory)

        org.apache.ant_1.6.2             (plug-in packaged as a directory)

            about.html                             About

            asl-v20.txt                               Apache Software License referenced by About

            LICENSE.dom.html              W3C License referenced by About

                   (Feature Blurb in "blurb" property)

        org.eclipse.core.runtime_3.1.0.jar   (plug-in packaged as a JAR)

            about.html                             About

            about_files                             (directory for any local files linked from About)

                asl-v20.txt                           Apache Software License referenced by About

                   (Feature Blurb in "blurb" property)

        org.eclipse.sdk_3.0.1             (plug-in packaged as a directory)

            about.html                             About

                   (Feature Blurb in "blurb" property)

    features                                           (features directory)

        org.eclipse.platform_3.2.0   (the feature for org.apache.ant and org.eclipse.core.runtime?)

            license.html                           (Feature License)

            epl-v10.html                          (EPL referenced by SUA/Feature License)

                (Feature Update License in "license" property)

        org.eclipse.sdk_3.0.1             (feature directory)

            license.html                           (Feature License)

            epl-v10.html                          (EPL referenced by SUA/Feature License)

                (Feature Update License in "license" property)


Does this look right?  Then, Bjorn’s checker is looking for the following minimum:






                   (Not in your list below, but shouldn’t this be included?)







Is this correct?


Doug G


From: [] On Behalf Of Bjorn Freeman-Benson
Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2007 5:14 PM
Cc: Cross project issues
Subject: [] One More Final Word on Legal Stuff


Europa Project Leads,
Like the fifth book in the increasingly misnamed Hitchhikers Guide Trilogy, here is one more "final" word on the legal stuff.

I've Made A Mess. This whole legal and license file thing has become a bit of a mess and it's probably mostly my fault. In an attempt to straighten it out, I write this email. I have vetted this email with Janet (our Legal ace) and Mike (the final authority). You may safely ignore my previous email on the topic and read just this one.

Not Evil. First, let me start by saying that we (the EMO) are not trying to annoy you (the committers who make Eclipse useful and great). Nor are we instituting anything new - we're just following the existing Guide to Legal Documents. The only thing that you might consider new is that we're actually putting more effort into checking the validity of the legal documents than we have in the past but, as the policeman said, "just because you've been speeding here for years doesn't make it legal to speed here"...

Unfortunate Incorrectness. Second, I have not been entirely correct about all the legal files in some of my earlier emails. That is entirely my fault. And it should lead you to wonder why you should believe anything I say on the topic from here on. An excellent question, one best answered by the fact that I've had Janet and Mike review this email for accuracy.

Clear Rules. The Guide to Legal Documents is the defining document about the various legal files required in your features and plug-ins. If you find a section of the Guide to be unclear or confusing, please ask us (Janet and I) to clarify for you. For example, "I don't understand section 4.2 where it says 'should' and yet later says 'must' - which is correct?" or "Section 4.3 doesn't say anything about whether the html files should have html special characters or just pure-ASCII?". We will answer your specific question and we will update the Guide to Legal Documents so that everyone else will also benefit from the answer.

About Files. Section 4.2 of the Guide to Legal Documents describes about.html files. You'll see from the text there that about.html files are required for all plug-ins.

Correct Before = Correct Now (I). If your about.html files were correct in a previous release AND no new third-party code was added to the plug-ins, then the about.html files are still correct. No date changes are required.

Feature Files. Section 4.3 of the Guide to Legal Documents describes the license.html and files. You will see in reading that section and section 4.1 (see below for more about section 4.1) that at least four, perhaps five, files are required in each feature:

  1. Feature License (license.html)
  2. Feature Update License ( file, license property)
  3. Feature Blurb (
  4. epl-v10.html - a verbatim copy of the Eclipse Public License v1.0
  5. notice.html - if license.html is NOT the Eclipse Foundation Software User Agreement (because you used the clause "One thing that is important to note is that with the distributed licensing model used by plug-ins, unless a Feature Update License contains an aggregation of all the notices from the plug-ins for a feature, a user will not be able to see these notices before installing the feature. It is for this reason that the maintainer of a feature may choose to have different text for the Feature License and Feature Update License." to have different text in the Feature License), then the notice.html must contain a verbatim copy of the Eclipse Foundation Software User Agreement

Correct Before = Correct Now (II). If your license.html,,, epl-v10.html, and notice.html files were correct in a previous release AND no new third-party code was added to the features, then the files are still correct. No date changes or additional bulleted lists are required.

Section 4.1 and the Software User Agreement. Section 4.1 of the Guide describes the requirement to have a copy of the SUA: "The appropriate SUA and a copy of any referenced license must be located in the root directory of any distributed build". And because each update manager installable feature is, effectively, "an distributed build", that means that each update manager feature needs to have a copy of the SUA and any referenced licenses.

Europa Build RC3+ Checker Tool. The automated checker tool that I had installed without warning before (that was a mistake) has been revised and will be turned on starting with the Europa RC3+0 build. The automated checker checks that:

  • every plug-in has an about.html
  • every feature has a license.html
  • every feature has a, license property
  • every feature has an epl-v10.html
  • every plug-in and feature has been certified by the project lead as having correct legal files. The list of these plug-ins, features, and versions are taken from the certification emails that you all have been sending to the mailing list.

For Europa, the automated checker will not check the contents of the files, only their existence. Thus the tool is a helper for all of us (it finds blatant problems), but cannot be used as a definition of legal conformance.

Don't "Work Around It." Please, don't just "work around" the whole legal thing. Each time we see an email on a public list or blog that says "I'm just working around the legal issues and not really paying any attention to them", we are forced to institute some new policy or checker tool to fix that hole. The legal world being what it is, we cannot just ignore those statements. So each time someone "works around" the rules, and says so in public, they are just creating more work for everyone involved - for us and for you.

If you are not happy with the required legal documentation, please use the constructive techniques of the Eclipse governance model to effect change: talk to your company's Board member and/or your Committer Board representatives. The legal issues are complex, but if we cooperate, I'm sure we can work out better implementations of them for Ganymede and beyond.

In a specific response to you: the legal documents require that you include a license.html in each of your features even though it duplicates the text over and over again. I agree with you that, as a developer, "It would seem to make more sense to refer to a single copy of the license maintained by the foundation and for there to be translations of the license also maintained by the foundation." but that is not the way the legal documents are currently written. As a Committer Board member, I would hope that you can take your experience to the Board and help them revise the legal documents to avoid the wasted bits and bandwidth in the future.

In a specific response to you: "So, they do have internet access at this time, and the chance that they are able to go to the links for reading the lienses is big. For cases where it doesn't work, they can download and inspect the license after downloding". Again, as a developer, I understand the logic of that position, but it is not what the legal documents currently say.

Bjorn (& Janet & Mike)

Back to the top