OW2 Intellectual Property Policy Primer

A primer on OW2 IP management for project leaders.
Please check out the official OW2 IPR Policy for detailed informations.


IP Management

Intellectual Property management is a process used to handle IP issues.


OW2 only accepts projects published under licenses approved by the Open Source Initiative.
Projects must take care of their dependencies, in order to remain license compatible.
Each dependency of a project has its own license, project members have to make sure that they use the dependencies (linking, distribution, ...) within the bounds of the license.

For example, an LGPL3 project cannot depend upon a GPL3 library (GPL3 is viral and requires 'client' to be GPL too).
Another example: an LGPL project has the right to depend on an ASL2 library.

Code Ownership

A project also has to manage code property, ensuring that its codebase remains clean from copyrighted, patented contributions.

If OW2 does not own the code, then the contributor may keep its copyright; it may be perfectly normal for contributions to be copyrighted.

This means that contributions belong solely to the contributor.
In other words: the contributor is the author of the contribution. As a consequence, he owns the copyright on his/her contribution.

OW2 Propositions

The OW2 Consortium do not own any copyright or claim code ownership on project's contributions.
OW2 only provides the infrastructure that hosts the code.

By default, the OW2 IP Rights Policy applies on contributions.

Nevertheless, these defaults can be overridden by each project if needed.

Per-Project Policy

Each project is responsible to handle IP issues in their own way, OW2 only provides guidance.
If a project decides to formalize their IP management, a contributor agreement needs to be created.

Contributor Agreement

A Contributor Agreement (CA) is a contract between the contributor/committer and the project leader.
It defines the conditions under which contributions will be incorporated into the project's codebase.

A CA can have 2 forms: Individual Contributor Agreement (ICA) and Corporate Contributor Agreement (CCA), CCA being an additional form for contributors doing their contributions as part of their work (for those lucky guys working in Open Source  ).

A CA may state multiple assertions:

  • Contribution is the contributor's property (or company's property)
  • Contribution's copyright is transferred to another legal entity (may be a foundation, a company, ...)
  • Contribution is to be licensed under a project decided license


Source Headers

All projects' source files (non-generated) must have a license header at the top.
The license header depends on the license selected by the project.


Software Grant Agreement

A Software Grant Agreement (SGA) may be required when a full working code base (like a sub-project, or a significant component) is willing to be contributed to a project.