Confused as to why this is here, please see Discussion, Flames, below
Contributor licenses come in many forms.
TWiki's copyright statement explicitly states:
Copyright © 1999-2004 by the contributing authors. All
material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing
If this notice did not appear, this would in fact still be the case. (Much like
a rare unsigned Terry Prachett book does not need
©: Terry Pratchett
at the beginning, but is considered highly sensible)
In order for redistribution and copying of comments & code added to
TWiki.org, the copyright owners - that is YOU
must provide TWiki.org with
a license for your code and comments. The current assumption by TWiki.org
that all comments & code attached to pages can be redistributed in
unlimited form by them is erroneous.
Why is a license important ?
A license is important because without it, default copyright law holds,
not "wiki"-law, not GPL, pure copyright law. In the past this "attitude"
(fact) has been taken as an attack on TWiki.org, when it is not.
(If a GPL license has been granted then that or copyright law hold -
with the latter being more restrictive)
Copyright law states that in the absence of any permission that
copying & modification of material created by another person still
under copyright is unauthorised. In the US there is the concept of
, however this does not apply in all countries - including
the UK where a number of CoreTeam
developers are located.
Unless you explicitly give permission to the core team they cannot
legally take patches or documentation from you for redistribution.
: If your code is a substantial derivative of TWiki - then you
do not have any option.
What Options Are There ?
If you are distributing a whole
file? None - you
can only redistribute the whole
file under the terms
of the GPL.
Common options chosen
If you are distributing patches
that are substantially
your code, then you are not bound by the GPL for those
patches, since you are not redistributing stuff not written by
you. (This was part of the FSF's complaint against the original
QPL accompanying Qt - you were forced to distribute patches,
and nothing else - the patches then could be any license).
In this scenario you have a number of options, not limited to:
I believe Options 1 or 3 are preferred by the TWiki.org core team
- Assign copyright to the work you contribute to either the core team, or a core team member. In some countries you may not be able to do this.
- Tell the core team they can do what they like with your contributions
- Explicitly state the license they can use to distribute your work. Options you have:
- Explicitly GPL your work - this then allows anyone to use your work under the same conditions that you recieved TWiki under
- If you want to be less restrictive, you can use the modified BSD license. This license is GPL compatible - that is it allows the incorporation of your work into a GPL work, but has less restrictions, and allows more to be done with your work. You still retain copyright, but the work can be used and treated as if you had assigned copyright to the core team.
All these options boil down to permission - a license is a document
that sets out the terms under which you can perform an act
that would usually be illegal. Be it fishing, driving, copying &
distributing content. By definition any contributor can choose any
license they wish.
TWiki.org had a notice on the registration page stating that
all contributions of code and text would be treated as if they were
GPL'd (in the case of code) and public domain (in the case of text)
then you would not need to consider what license you are providing
They do not, and this is a problem, since without acknowledgement
of this issue (which could be trivially solved by a) contacting past
contributors b) a notice added to the registration page) then the
of the above puts the TWiki.org community under
question at future points in the equation.
For reference I have personally chosen in the past first 3, then 4,
then to say "anything goes" with regard to the core team's use.
All of those can be picked and chosen from, since I have made
the options irrevocable by me.
- 02 Feb 2004
Creating this page to clear up my home page, and because the
issues it covers whilst discussed lots with various core team members
(with one notable exception who sees me as a threat for even thinking
about these issues) in good nature still haven't been dealt with. (even though the
solutions are relatively simple)
This isn't a whinge, it's just explanation as to why I'm moving this here.
concerned that TWiki has absorbed enough material just attached
to pages without contacting original authors to find out the licenses under
which their work may be used.
might not have liked me trying to perform a Wiki:MindWipe
last August and denied me that right (and in the process ignoring his own
copyright notices), but this does not mean that at some point if patches to code
are taken without checking the conditions under which they're provided that
TWiki.org is safe
from a SCO like situation in future. If TWiki is being changed
to a situation where it is "marketted" by PeterThoeny
as an application
platform, knowing the foundations you're standing on are solid is important.
And in the meantime I'm painted a threat by PeterThoeny
specific issues, and I'm one of the very few who have
explicitly stated the licenses
under which their work may
be used (and also made it impossible for me to do
a "SCO" on TWiki.org in future)
As noted above, I'm moving this here because a) I'm cleaning up my
home page here b) I really am concerned that I'm one of the few who have
explicitly stated this. "Implicit" isn't an option - TWiki.org needs permission.
I'm not going to respond further on this - as I say I believe this issue will bite
TWiki.org again at some point if it isn't resolved, and the options above are there
to help contributors make a choice and help the core team, rather than for me
to become (again) a target for abuse, and excuses about other people's broken
It's not my intent to start a flame war about this, and as a result any flamage
will be ignored by me at least - I'm tidying my home page. If you disagree with
what I say, this is probably the one place where Wiki:DisagreeByDeleting
appropriate. (I'm sick and tired of seeing Wiki:DisagreeByDistorting
) (And if
you don't like that, please, Wiki:DisagreeByDeleting
Finally, I don't expect the core team to do anything about this, this is an issue
for the contributors of TWiki.org as much as the people who task themselves
with running TWiki.org. People contributing code & comments explicitly stating
"yes, take, use" is far more positive than an imposed procedure.
- 02 Feb 2004
This posting should be taken with a grain of salt. It is done by the same person who spread FUD
last year on lack of acknowleging contributors and on violating the GPL, confusing the TWiki community and the CoreTeam