OW2 Intellectual Property Policy Primer

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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.


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

Code Ownership

Project also have to manage code property, ensuring that its codebase remains clean from copyrighted, patented contributions.

If OW2 does not own the code, the contributor may keep its copyright, so contributions may be copyrighted, but it could be perfectly normal.

That means that contributions belongs 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, theses defaults could be overridden by each project if needed.

Per-Project Policy

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


All committers of a project should (must ?) have signed the OW2 Membership Agreement.

Contributor Agreement

A Contributor Agreement (CA) is a contract between the contributor/committer and the project leader.
It defines under which conditions a 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 (theses lucky guys work in Open Source emoticon_smile ).

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 project's source file (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.



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