Open Source Licensing

DrTribos used Ask the Experts™
Hi All

I'm not confident in my interpretation of Open Source Software Licenses... for example if I were to use large chunks of Open Office for my own project, add my own code and then redistribute commercially, what would my obligations be?

I'm reading from here: 

As far as I can tell I must include the original license, annotate code where I have made modifications (I guess this would somehow include deletions, I only the word processor functionality - not the rest of the office suite)...

Am I able to keep my own IP as my own?  If I make a chunk of code that works with the open office word processor would it also have to be open source?

Personally I don't really have a problem with making my code open, but I don't think this approach will fly with my employer.

So, in a nutshell, would it be ok to trim down the word processor to the bare bones required for my project and add my own (locked / not open source code) to add my own functionality and then sell that software?

Do others do this?  Are there examples out there?

Cheers, S
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There are different implementations of Open Source licensing, depending on the original creator. There's GPL, the BSD license, etc. Your best bet would be to consult the creator or website that hosts the software; Open Office in this case:

I noted this one in particular:

Does the open source license give me the right to modify and distribute any version of Oracle Open Office / StarOffice?
No. The source license does not allow anyone to modify, repackage, or redistribute any version of Oracle Open Office / StarOffice, or any other commercial version of the source code without an assignment from the vendor. For Oracle Open Office / StarOffice, the vendor was Oracle (formerly Sun Microsystems).


Hi Neil - the page you linked to has another link to the Apache License v2.0, under which it states (amongst other things):

2. Grant of Copyright License. Subject to the terms and conditions of this License, each Contributor hereby grants to You a perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, no-charge, royalty-free, irrevocable copyright license to reproduce, prepare Derivative Works of, publicly display, publicly perform, sublicense, and distribute the Work and such Derivative Works in Source or Object form.

Out of curiosity, what is the source for the quote you provided above?



Oh, don't worry - I found it:

But this seems to contradict the information here:
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The product, OpenOffice, since its debut in 2000, has changed hands, or "ownership" over the years. Now it looks as though Apache is the licenser. Apache has other products though - like their flagship Apache web server. So don't confuse their web server license:

With their OpenOffice license:

Pay close attention - the quote I included says you cannot modify and distribute Oracle OpenOffice or StarOffice or any other commercial version of the source code without an assignment from the vendor. The version you're working with is NOT commercial, it's OpenSource, so you would follow the license here:



So here:   it says:
Apache OpenOffice is released under the Apache 2.0 Licence.

I click on "Copyright & License" which takes me to the page you mention, where it says:

Licenses & Copyrights of at the Apache Software Foundation

Portions of are Copyright 1999, 2010 by contributing authors and Oracle and/or its affiliates.

Sections or single pages are covered by certain licenses. If a license notice is displayed, you may use the content of that page according to that license.

In all other cases, the page is licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (ALv2).

I guess I need to consider *all* the licenses that I might encounter, but what caught my eye was:  In all other cases, the page is licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (ALv2).    

The ALv2 is a hyperlink that takes me to: 

... so I guess the clauses for ALv2 apply unless there is another license... I think this could get messy even for the experts?
I understand the confusion. Best to consult the distributor/licensor and make sure you're convered.

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