This page last changed on Jun 25, 2007 by cholmes.
Not Official Documentation

Warning: This document is not yet accepted as part of the GSIP process, it is a part of GSIP 15 - Contributor Agreements and Supporting Documentation, and will not be an official document until that proposal is accepted.


The primary goal of GeoServer's Community Licensing Model is to further GeoServer's evolution and grow the community around it. It is conceived as an engine to make that possible. We recognize that the GPL is the most effective open source license for guaranteeing that those who extend the core software will contribute back to the original community from which it came. But the nature of GeoServer is such that many people want to use it, and are willing to contribute back to it, but the terms of the GPL are such that they'd have to open source all their software if they want to integrate with GeoServer. The community licensing model is built to allow those types of organizations to contribute back substantially, while not forcing them to release the source code of everything integrated with GeoServer.

How this works

How does this work? It is basically a twist on the dual licensing model utilized by open source projects such as MySQL, Qt, and Open Office, but there are a number of important differences.

  • A majority of the money made from license fees goes directly back in to GeoServer, and all money made goes in to the hands of the community (not just profit for the organization that owns the code).
  • The proprietary version of GeoServer does not contain any extra documentation, or extra features that are not also available as open source. Though those who have licensed a proprietary version of GeoServer can include extra features that are not available as open source. But in those cases the community will gain, directly in revenue and/or other services to further the project.
  • The open source version is not seen as 'advertising' for the proprietary version, we are not seeking to 'up sell' you. We are doing it because we recognize that some organizations aren't entirely comfortable with the GPL, so we want an option for them.
  • We encourage you to use the open source version if at all possible, and to pay for support around it. We don't want to confuse you and spread Fear Uncertainty and Doubt that you have to buy the proprietary license. You can easily have an 'enterprise' license (with full technical support) with the open source version.
  • We encourage potential tool providers looking to build on top of GeoServer to talk to us, even if they think the GPL is too restrictive and can not afford license fees. We are looking to build a sustainable eco-system of providers around GeoServer, so we can likely figure out a way to collaborate - this is done to enable more collaboration, not less.

Additional goals

The model is additionally meant to reward those who become part of the GeoServer community, by giving them revenue sharing when they bring in license fees. And it is intended to guarantee that a majority of money made from license fees goes back in to GeoServer. The goal is to avoid the exploitation of the hard work done by the community, and we feel the community licensing model is the most effective way to do that - keeping the GPL, but also enabling proprietary software to be built upon it as long as they give clear contributions back to the community if they are profiting from the work of the GeoServer Project. The contribution back does not necessarily have to be in set fees, there are a variety of ways to contribute - additional open source code, testing, marketing, sponsoring sprints, ect. But we will have a set fee so there is an unambiguous way to license the code with no negotiation. If for some reason the community licensing model is not meeting your needs, please get in touch with us. With this model the Project Steering Committee has the power to make judgment calls and relicense for special situations - where organizations want to become a part of the community but can not handle the GPL for all situations.

Document generated by Confluence on May 14, 2014 23:00