This page last changed on Jun 07, 2012 by bmmpxf.
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.

Will GeoServer always be available under an open source license?

Yes, written in to the contributor agreement is a promise that GeoServer will always be available under an open source license.

Why are we doing contributor agreements?

There are several advantages to having one organization hold copyright, as detailed above, including better legal protection, minimizing confusion, and a potential source of revenue. The impetus for pursuing this now is that we have been hearing from more and more people that they really want to use GeoServer and contribute back to it, but are hampered by the license. Having contributor agreements on file gives us the flexibility to change the license without having to explicitly get an agreement every single time the community desires to make a change.

Who holds the copyright?

OpenPlans is a 501(c)3 non-profit that started GeoServer and has contributed to it substantially, always working to grow the community as much as possible. The headers of GeoServer are currently copyright to OpenPlans, so committers are already implicitly giving OpenPlans copyright. This step is to make it explicit, making the legal case to protect GeoServer more secure.

Who decides what license GeoServer is released under and how potential revenue is handled?

The recently formed Project Steering Committee (PSC) of GeoServer is made up of individuals who have contributed substantially to the success of GeoServer. The contributor agreement specifies that any decisions about the terms OpenPlans may issue the license under are subject to the approval of the PSC.

Can I join the PSC?

Yes, membership to the PSC is open to all. It is a merit based selection process, based on contributions to the GeoServer Project (which includes far more than just the code) detailed in (link to selection process/criteria). We believe in rewarding those who contribute to GeoServer success with a place in the committee that decides the future of GeoServer.

Will GeoServer be available under a non-GPL license?

Yes. The specifics of this are still being worked out by the community, but one of the goals of allowing alternate licenses was to enable us to issue GeoServer under a non-GPL license.

Why would anyone want a non-GPL license?

We've had potential users come to us with three major use cases for those wanting a non-GPL license.

  1. Much of GIS is 'integration', hooking up a spatial component to an existing system. These systems are often licensed under proprietary licenses not compatible with the GPL.
  2. Many governments and other organizations are still uncomfortable with open source software per se, but see GeoServer as a potentially valuable piece of software that they'd like to use, and see a proprietary license from an established organization as a seal of quality. (We do all we can to dispel these notions, but we have been approached by other consultants who we can convince, but they don't feel comfortable convincing their clients)
  3. Commercial companies would like to base a portion of their proprietary product on GeoServer. They are happy to be good community members, contributing back any code in GeoServer, and indeed doing a bunch of testing and further improvements to get it up to their level of quality.

How is revenue from license fees used?

The details of this are still being worked out, but a majority of every license fee will be re-invested back in to GeoServer. OpenPlans, who 'owns' the code is a non-profit and thus is unable to put profits in to the hands of investors, they must be re-invested. In many cases all money will go back in to GeoServer. This may be in the form of more features, bug fixes, documentation, sponsoring of sprints, or raising awareness of GeoServer to further grow the community.

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