New CentOS Project licensing policy
Monday , 27, April 2020
Today the CentOS Project is rolling out a comprehensive licensing policy to document how licensing has been conducted normally in the Project, along with filling gaps that are crucial for being a contributor project. Your feedback and questions are welcome on the centos-devel mailing list. Please read the following for more detail and background.
One of the effects of adding CentOS Stream highlighted the fact we do not have any kind of clear policy about licensing contributions to the project. Obviously people have been contributing code and content to the project for a very long time, but none of those contributions went into the core Linux distribution. With CentOS Stream comes the need to manage a comparatively huge firehose of contributions needing clear guidelines and policies.
This gave us a chance to look at the state of the licenses the CentOS Project and its contributors put on code and content that originates in the project itself. Examples of this might be spec files for RPM packages, documentation on the wiki, or contributions to the branding of the project itself.
Presenting clear statements about how content and code is going to be licensed is a standard part of any open source project. The introduction of CentOS Stream has just raised the visibility of not having a licensing policy. The Board of Directors feels this policy better serves the needs of contributors and users.
An important purpose of this licensing policy is to provide a Default License–we’ve selected the MIT license–and a clear notice of attribution to the project under the MIT license. This Default License is used when a contribution does not have a license attached or is not destined for a repository that is already licensed, e.g. has a LICENSE file.
Otherwise, contributions are under the license of whatever is covering the rest of the content and code base–when you contribute to a software project repository, you put the contribution under the same license as the rest of the content and code in that repository.
This is also an opportunity to upgrade the version of our wiki license to CC BY-SA 4.0 for anything going forward; it is backward compatible with existing 3.0 content. This is a clean upgrade and improvement for the Project.
The CentOS Board of Directors received advice and drafting from Red Hat Legal in crafting this policy.
Your questions about this policy are welcome; the best place to discuss is the centos-devel mailing list.