Guidelines and Report of the Licensing and Policy Summit for Software Sharing in Higher Education

The final report of the Licensing and Policy Summit for Software Sharing in Higher Education meeting held in Indianapolis in October 2006 has just been released. It can be found as Final Report (pdf) at summit2006.osnext.org. Here is the cover letter from Brad Wheeler of Indiana University and Dan Greenstein of the Unversity of California, co-conveners of the meeting, announcing the report:

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to share with you the final report from our October 2006 Summit:

“Open Source Collaboration in Higher Education: Guidelines and Report of the Licensing and Policy Summit for Software Sharing in Higher Education”

We say “final” as much as anything is ever final, but we can consider this a full 1.0 version. It is posted on a public URL at http://summit2006.osnext.org at the top as “Final Report.”

Chris Coppola, rSmart and a Sakai Foundation Board Member, has been working on getting the revised Educational Community License 2.0 to the Open Source Initiative (OSI) process for consideration. Remember, that ECL 2 is based on a revision of the Apache 2.0 license such that it can work for the substantial university interests that we discussed. We will keep you posted.

Let us add a special thanks to those who gave extra efforts in the review and refinement of this document: Malcolm Bain (Legistics), Chris Coppola, Charles Drucker (U of Cal Office of the President), Barnaby Gibson (Ithaka), Harry Mangalam (UC Irvine), David Shields (IBM), and Ralph Weedon (JISC).

Finally, again, we thank the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Don Waters for their grant to convene the Summit.

Higher Ed’s participation in the broad world of open source along with some of our own unique projects will likely evolve and mature in the coming years. It is our hope that the work of this summit will be an important step in developing a more common framework for inter-institutional software sharing and wise use of resources in our institutions. The work to employ this common framework of Contributor Agreements and Licenses, evolve our institutional policies, and adopt it among our projects is now before us.

Sincerely,

Brad Wheeler
Dan Greenstein

I was privileged to be able to attend this meeting and have written about it earlier in this blog: Licensing and Policy Summit for Software Sharing in Higher Education: Trip Report.

Some highlights from the report:

“Two of the main goals of the Summit were to identify an open source license that could be used consistently across the higher education community and to establish a uniform contribution agreement that would be compatible with the open source license. Another major goal of the Summit was to make sure that the forms of agreement would address patents, and not just the copyright of the software.”

“Historically, universities developed their own software distribution licenses. The original ECL [Educational Community License] was created to provide consistency. Although the philosophical intent of the ECL was to be a BSD-style license, the brevity of the BSD-style licnses also may leave room for ambiguity, and the ECL did not include a patent license.”

“The consensus of the Summit group was to create a new version of the ECL by addint a patent clause. This was done to address the concerns of universities that often grant patent licenses to third parties. Although Apache 2.0 (not the original ECL) was the basis for the new ECL, the group believed that a separate license was necessary to ensure that the unique needs of the higher educational community continue to be met.”

The report includes an excellent overview of some of the special issues relating to patent licensing and universities, as well as a brief discussion of patents and copyrights outside the United States.

The report notes that the Summit was sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and that Tina Howard of Indiana University helped produce the report. Brad Wheeler mentioned at the start of the meeting that he had asked Tina to takes notes and prepare a report of the meeting. Given the wide-ranging nature of the discussion, she did an excellent job at this, as well as overseeing the several rounds of review that followed the meeting. The sponsorship by the Mellon Foundation is another example of their leadership in ongoing contributions to advance the creation and deployment of open-source software in higher education.

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