[Incubator] New Application: GeoToolkit

Christopher Schmidt crschmidt at metacarta.com
Tue May 26 17:46:08 EDT 2009

On Tue, May 26, 2009 at 11:08:23PM +0200, Martin Desruisseaux wrote:
> Christopher Schmidt a écrit :
> >Again, I don't think that preventing this is the role of OSGeo. Ensuring
> >that projects are meeting the requirements of the license of places that
> >they obtain code from is a perfectly reasonable task -- though generally
> >I'm completely in support of leaving this up to the projects -- but
> >stepping in to say "You need to give GeoToolkit credit for code that you
> >are using which was written for the GeoToolkit project" would just be
> >silly. The copyright notices are likely required to be in place, and
> >anything beyond that would be well beyond the role of OSGeo as a
> >foundation.
> But this is the issue that I was about to develop in an other mail...
> There is no "(C) Copyright Geotoolkit" or "(C) Copyright Geomatys" 
> statement, at least not until very recently. They were only "(C) Copyright 
> OSGeo" statements.
> In the course of GeoTools incubation, we choose to get every contributors 
> to give their copyright to OSGeo in order to resolve a legal issue 
> ("GeoTools" was a non-existent legal entity) and for making easier an 
> enventual upgrade of the licence, from LGPL 2.1 to LGPL 3.0. Adrian and 
> myself were especially strong supporters of this approach.
> We are not asking for credit statement. But until yesterday they were even 
> no "Copyright Geomatys" statement, nothing else than "Copyright OSGeo"!
> If Geotoolkit is incubated, I really wish to continue that way - to keep 
> licensing issues simplier and in good faith toward GeoTools, for allowing 
> code exchange with homogeneus licence. But this approach makes us more 
> vulnerable to the concern that I have pointed. Because we volontary choosed 
> to give all copyright to OSGeo, I though that hoping for some form of 
> "equilibre" from OSGeo was not unfair.

The reason for copyright assignment seems to me primarily to be the
option of re-licensing the code at some point in the future. As a
developer, I see no particular reason to make it easier for another
project to take my code, and relicense it in any way they see fit. I
feel that maintaining a seperate copyright statement is simply
protection of the IP you've created, ensuring that it is used in the way
that you want to see it used. (Of course, GeoMatys could presumably
grant a license to GeoTools for code that is their copyright to
relicense if they thought that neccesary -- so long as GeoMatys is the
primary copyright holder for the new code.)

> If Geotoolkit is not incubated, we will protect ourself by adding "(C) 
> Copyright Geomatys" below "(C) Copyright OSGeo" in every Geotoolkit 
> classes. Actually we already took this move yesterday when we realized that 
> it may become necessary. However if we do so and given that there is 
> material in Geotoolkit which is probably of interest to GeoTools, then the 
> GeoTools licence homogenity is broken. GeoTools would be in their right 
> mind to react by adding themself "(C) Copyright OpenGeo" or similar 
> statement, which would compromise the hard work we did during GeoTools 
> incubation.

Presuambly the PSC would be against such a decision. OpenLayers
incorporates copyrighted material from other open source projects with
appropriate credit, but that doesn't mean that every contributor is
considered a copyright holder. I can't imagine that GeoTools would go
through the work to assign copyright to OSGeo and then *stop* doing so
for a reason like this.

In the end, the project PSC will presumably make the decision that is
best for the project. OSGeo's role is to ensure that decision meets a
certain set of criteria; nothing you've discussed yet seems to violate
it, and I would see no reason for OSGeo to step in to 'control' project
governance based on your concerns.

> This issue may become totally irrelevant in two years if each project get 
> enough of own identity. But for now there is a window of vulnerability and 
> - if we play by the rule we were hoping to play inside OSGeo - there would 
> be *no* copyright statement for protecting our work.

That's correct. By choosing to grant your copyright to OSGeo, you make
it so that the code is easily 'copyable' across OSGeo copyrighted
projects with no neccesity to 'credit' anyone else.

An option here is clearly to *not* make that choice for
Geomatys/GeoToolkit -- as you've already done -- even with OSGeo

> The alternative would be that, if OSGeo accepts to incubate Geotoolkit, is 
> also accepts that we break the policy that we have setup ourself with 
> GeoTools and add "(C) Geomatys" statements in all our work. But be aware 
> that we avoided that until yesterday because I though that it would be 
> unfair toward GeoTools (even if I'm the main author of all the code in the 
> "geotoolkit" repository).

I don't think that there is any reason it's unfair to place a copyright
statement on work that is yours. Clearly, it is your legal
responsibility to continue to credit OSGeo and the GeoTools project
for data/code from that project, but beyond that, it is your IP,
presumably (as a derivative work -- so yours, and under the terms of the
GeoTools license as well), and there is no reason not to put the
appropriate copyright statement on the code.

> A compromise could be that we accumulate "(C) Geomatys" during a year and 
> transfer the copyright to OSGeo once a year. This is not what we did since 
> the incubation of GeoTools (we were giving copyright directly).

That would be a reasonable path to take, and it wouldn't be the first
time some non-trivial amount of existing code had copyright granted to 
OSGeo. However, it seems clear to me that one way to alleviate this
potential concern is simply to maintain copyright of the code. 

OpenLayers is currently "Copyright MetaCarta". We deal with credit in a
number of ways: via our CLA lists (http://trac.openlayers.org/wiki/CLA), 
our contributors file
(http://svn.openlayers.org/trunk/openlayers/doc/authors.txt), etc. 
In our builds, we include license information for incorporate

It seems to me like it would make sense to have GeoTools encourage this
type of credit, *regardless* of the fork.

However, I maintain that this is still not an OSGeo problem. It may be a
GeoMatys problem -- and I maintain that would likely be the case
regardless. GeoTools is the de facto library in this space, and
competing/setting GeoToolkit apart will be hard. You mention 'getting
contracts' several times, but I think that this aspect of the project is
really not within the realm of interest of OSGeo. The GeoTools PSC seems
to be open to working together to ensure the success, to what extent is
possible, of both projects, and I don't see any evidence that there
needs to be a 'hardship' attitude here. Work together, find your
relative strengths and weaknesses, and work to improve them all around,
and the result will likely be beneficial for everyone.

Starting off by saying "How can we make sure GeoTools doesn't use our
code?" seems like stepping off on the wrong foot.

Best Regards,
Christopher Schmidt

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