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Revision as of 13:04, 2 May 2013 by Markmc (talk | contribs)

Legal Issues FAQ

The legal-discuss@lists.openstack.org mailing list is a forum for questions that have a legal aspect to them. These questions may concern (for example) licensing, third party packages, contributor agreement questions and trademark issues. The list will be used to build into an ad-hoc knowledge base in the form of this FAQ about those thorny legal issues that most commonly affect the OpenStack project.

Opinions documented here do not constitute legal advice from the OpenStack Foundation or anyone else.


Q: Should we include NOTICE files in OpenStack projects?

A: If a NOTICE file exists in a project, the Apache License requires that derivative works include the attribution notices from the file. This could be helpful for a number of purposes - (a) ensuring an attribution to the OpenStack project gets included in derivative works and (b) helping distributors of derivative works to include any required attribution notices for third party code included in the project. However, neither of these issues are deemed significant or important enough to warrant the cost of maintaining the files or requiring distributors to include an OpenStack project attribution notice.

For the full background, see this thread

Incorporating BSD/MIT Licensed Code

Q: If we include BSD or MIT licensed code in an OpenStack project, how best should we comply with the terms of the license?

A: The 2 core clauses in the BSD license make some demands about the retention of copyright notices, the license and disclaimers in both source and binary distributions of the code. The MIT license contains similar requirements. Probably the easiest thing to do when incorporating BSD or MIT licensed code is to copy the copyright/license header from the source file into the destination file, as well as copying the copyright notice, license and disclaimer into the toplevel LICENSE file with a brief explanation of which code is under that license.

For the full background, see this email.

Copyright Headers

Q: Generally speaking, what's the idea with copyright headers in source files and what should be included in them?

OpenStack Foundation Copyright Headers

Q: Should I Include an OpenStack Foundation copyright header in my code?

A: Most existing OpenStack Foundation copyright headers you see in OpenStack code are likely associated with code from Rackspace developers before the OpenStack Foundation existed when OpenStack LLC was a wholly owned subsidiary of Rackspace. Once the foundation was formed, all OpenStack LLC assets (including copyrights) were transferred to the foundation and the copyright headers were updated. It's likely the only valid reason for OpenStack Foundation copyright notices on new code these days is where the code was authored by an employee or contractor of the foundation.

For the full background, see this thread.

New Project Names

Q: What sort of things should I bear in mind when choosing a new project name, in order to reduce the risk of running into legal problems in the future?