[llvm-dev] [libcxx-dev] LLVM Relicensing Update

Pavan Maddamsetti via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Tue Oct 16 16:51:14 PDT 2018

Dear LLVM community,

Please do not agree to relicense LLVM under the Apache 2 license. It will
make LLVM less useful, prevent other open source projects from using it,
and encourage the proliferation of software patents on LLVM technologies.

If LLVM is relicensed, projects like OpenBSD will no longer be able to
include upstream changes, because the patent termination clause restricts
users’ rights. Even if you do not use OpenBSD, you almost certainly use
OpenSSH, OpenBSD’s SSH implementation. If the project loses the ability to
include a recent compiler, many people will suffer the consequences.

Relicensing will also encourage privately held software patents on LLVM.
Under US [1] and European [2] law, public disclosure of intellectual
property invalidates patentability. That means if you release source code
without filing patents, the code becomes unpatentable by anyone. When code
is committed under the current license, everyone gains a permanent right to
use it.

For the patent termination clause of the Apache 2 license to be valid,
patents must be filed preemptively. Other contributors who have not filed
their own patents are then placed at a legal disadvantage. This creates an
“arms race” where everyone has to patent their unique contributions,
creating the threat of retaliation to avoid potentially getting sued for

Even if you acknowledge that the current license is not perfect,
relicensing LLVM will violate the spirit of good will and cooperation that
makes open source possible. It will take away the ability for other
projects to use LLVM, and increase the legal risks for those who choose not
to patent their contributions. If you are a programmer, not a lawyer,
relicensing LLVM is not in your interest.



[2] https://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/epc/2016/e/ar54.html

On Tue, Oct 16, 2018, 7:37 PM Chandler Carruth via libcxx-dev <
libcxx-dev at lists.llvm.org> wrote:

> Greetings,
> I wanted to provide an update to all the LLVM project (including all of
> its sub-projects) developers about the ongoing effort to relicense under
> LLVM under a new, unified license.
> TL;DR: It’s actually happening. If you are a contributor to LLVM, help us
> out by filling out our form and signing an agreement to cover any
> individual contributions you have made:
> https://goo.gl/forms/X4HiyYRcRHOnTSvC3
> All of this information and the latest status can always be found on the
> relicensing website here:
> http://llvm.org/foundation/relicensing/
> ## Background and Process
> For background, here is the new license:
> http://llvm.org/foundation/relicensing/LICENSE.txt
> The motivation, scope, and discussion of the license itself, please see
> the most recent thread from Chris on the subject:
> http://lists.llvm.org/pipermail/llvm-dev/2017-April/112142.html
> Also, we have the proposed new developer policy discussed here:
> http://lists.llvm.org/pipermail/llvm-dev/2017-August/116266.html
> Based on these discussions, there seems clear consensus to move forward,
> and we (the Foundation) have been working on this for the past year. I want
> to update folks on the progress and the next steps in the more boring
> logistics side of this: how do we actually switch.
> Our plan, roughly outlined when discussing the developer’s policy last
> year, is to install the new license and the developer policy that
> references both the new and old license. At that point, all subsequent
> contributions will be under both licenses. To ensure contributors are
> aware, we have a two-fold plan:
> 1) We’re going to get as many active contributors (both companies and
> individuals) to explicitly sign an agreement to relicense their
> contributions. This will make the change clear and will cover historical
> contributions as well.
> 2) For any remaining contributors, turn off their commit access until we
> can confirm they are covered by one of the above agreements.
> We plan to have the *vast majority* of contributors handled via #1 ahead
> of time, so this will not be disruptive. If necessary, we can delay this to
> ensure that #1 covers enough of the active contributors. We do not want to
> unnecessarily disrupt contributions, but we also want to move this forward
> as fast as we can. For contributors who cannot, for whatever reason,
> complete the outlined process (#2 above), please send email to
> license-questions at llvm.org and we'll work, in conjunction with our legal
> counsel, to find a path forward.
> Our current planned timeline is to install the new developer policy and
> the new license after the LLVM 8.0 release branch in January. We will then
> be focused on getting all of the historical contributions under an
> agreement to relicense so we can remove the old license(s).
> ## Relicensing Agreements
> For #1 to work, we need both individuals and companies to sign an
> agreement to relicense. The Foundation has worked with our lawyer and built
> a process for both companies and individuals.
> For individuals, we’re asking everyone to fill out a form so we have the
> necessary information (email addresses, potential employers, etc.) to
> effectively relicense their contributions. It contains a link to a DocuSign
> agreement to relicense any of their individual contributions under the new
> license. We’re really hoping that most people will just sign this agreement
> as it avoids us needing to prove whether every contribution is definitively
> covered by some company. You can fill out the form and sign the agreement
> here:
> https://goo.gl/forms/X4HiyYRcRHOnTSvC3
> For companies, we also have a DocuSign agreement:
> https://na3.docusign.net/Member/PowerFormSigning.aspx?PowerFormId=5a2bb38c-41c4-4ce0-a26e-52a7eb8ae51c
> We have already reached out to many major companies already, and a few
> have already signed this agreement. We will be collecting more companies
> from the form responses and reaching out to them. Feel free to reach out to
> your employer with the DocuSign link above, but please check the list of
> companies <http://llvm.org/foundation/relicensing/#coporate_agreement> we’ve
> already contacted and try to coordinate internally to avoid duplicate work.
> Once we get the new policy and license in place, we’ll be iterating with
> these tools until we have everything relicensed, or we have a concrete plan
> about what to do with any remaining material.
> ## New File Headers
> With the new license and developer policy, we also need to update the file
> headers. The Foundation worked with our lawyer to get a new header approved
> that is both minimal and functional:
> ```
> //===-- file/name - File description ----------------------------*- C++
> -*-===//
> //
> // Part of the LLVM Project, under the Apache License v2.0 with LLVM
> Exceptions.
> // See https://llvm.org/LICENSE.txt for license information.
> // SPDX-License-Identifier: Apache-2.0 WITH LLVM-exception
> //
> //===----------------------------------------------------------------------===//
> ```
> Some notable aspects:
> - No explicit copyright notice. After discussion with our lawyer, the
> value doesn’t seem worthwhile and it avoids the yearly need to update these.
> - Super compact, but includes things like an SPDX marker to ease automated
> license analysis.
> We will install these new file headers at the same time as the new
> developer policy and license.
> Thanks all, and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions!
> -Chandler (on behalf of the LLVM Foundation)
> _______________________________________________
> libcxx-dev mailing list
> libcxx-dev at lists.llvm.org
> http://lists.llvm.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/libcxx-dev
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