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This repo realizes the idea that OSS compliance activities will be less expensive by applying OSS principles
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Sharing-creates-value

This repo realizes the idea that Open Source Software (OSS) compliance activities will be less expensive by applying OSS principles

Introduction

Free and OSS development has a long and successful history. Its success is based on transparency, sharing, collaboration and appreciation. Open Source Software is the success story of the last 30 years.

Objective

Sharing creates value strives for the goal to lower the required effort in license compliance work for all who want to make use of OSS in a license compliant way. To achieve this Sharing creates value will develop, share and improve the artifacts needed to fulfill the requirements of the different Free and Open Source Software licenses by applying the Open Source Software development principles.

Another objective of Sharing creates value is a very close collaboration with the OSS community in order to fix detected "bugs" in licensing as well as introducing the information needed for license compliance activities in the Open Source projects, i.e. provide our analysis work to the OSS projects.

Last but not least we support tools which will help you to automate and reduce you effort in component management, license identification, OSS license compliance activities.

Our areas of work

  • Best practises in the area of OSS license compliance
  • OSS package analysis files
  • OSS disclosure documents
  • Licenses found in the internet, in order to improve the efficiecy of recognizing licenses of a tool as well as having a collection of license texts available (it is not meant to be a competition to the SPDX license list)
  • Descriptions of OSS license compliance processes
  • any other material which eases the OSS license compliance activities

We want to be the platform, which provides all information and artifacts for OSS license compliance. We think that there are a lot good things already available and we want to serve as a place where this information can be shared. Everybody is invited to contribute whatever he/she wants to contribute, for more details please see the FAQs.

What is the difference to other OSS license compliance activities

There exist already some projects / activities which deal with OSS license compliance like

Another initiative, which is very helpful for the topic license compliance is the Reuse project run by the Free Software Foundation Europe

OpenChain is currently more focusing on training and assessment, but the topic "how do I xyz to be license compliant" is not touched. As far as I know the answer to the question is a "legal interpretation of a certain screnario" and OpenChain does not want to do legal interpretations.

Copyleft.org provides practical tipps but it does not provide any license information and copyright notices of OSS packages.

Once published the Open Source License Checklists will be the first publicly available resource for learning "what do I have to do, if I incorporate software licensed under xyz in my software depending on he use case?"

A major objective of this project to provide reviewed license and copyright information of OSS packages - ready to use for everybody under a very relaxed license. Thus making OSS compliance for everybody a low effort and easy task. We are aware that the best approach will be to upstream this information, but before one is able to upstream anything there is the task to create the information to be contributed upstream. This is one focus of this project.

It seems that ClearlyDefined targets this to a certain extend, too.

OSS package analysis file

One of the tasks in OSS compliance work is the analysis of OSS packages in order to identify the licenses and copyright holders. Although tools are available which support the analysis, it is still the task which causes effort. We believe that is does not make any sense that everyone doing checks of packages again and again. This is redundant effort in our opinion which could be much better invested in OSS development. In other words: we think increasing the code base is much better instead of spending effort for license compliance checks which are done thousand fold today in many different organizations.

Process we follow in order to create a OSS package analysis file

We create such OSS package analysis files and make them available for download under the terms of the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication CC0-1.0. We know that the content we produce is somehow delicate. Due to this it is important to disclose how we create such content. Since we represent an Open Source project everything is transparent. The following points describe the procedure we follow in creating the "OSS package analysis file" as we call it.

The OSS package analysis file are generated following the process described below:

  • Obtain the component in source code form
    • download the component from the official web site / check the hashes
    • the component is provided by a third party
  • Issue a license and copyright analysis with the GPL-2.0 licensed tool FOSSology. FOSSology searches in files for the following information:
    • License relevant text phrases
    • Copyright strings
    • Keywords for ECC (Export, Control and Customs)
  • A licensing expert person will review and analyze the FOSSology result. The expert person is not necessarily a lawyer, but has several years of experience in license compliance activities.
  • Result is reviewed by a person who has more experience in license compliance activities than the author.
  • The final result is made available in form of a Debian copyright file or a SPDX document or another "machine & human friendly" format.
  • For the analysis of the OSS packages we currently use FOSSology version 3.2.0
  • Our work instance can be found here

Quality assurance process we follow when we recieve OSS package analysis files as a contribution

Here we distinguish two cases:

Initial contribution

This means a complete package analysis file is contributed of a package which is not contained here already.

  • We inspect the package with FOSSology and do a plausibility test of the content of the document based on the FOSSology information. So we will do a review (see below)
  • We will make the information available what we compared during the plausibility check

Update / bug fix

In this case we will verify the bug fix; i.e. check the information of the file of the package whether the bug report / fix is correct

Review of an OSS package analysis file

To do a good review is similar to the license analysis itself. Here we will provide tipps and good practises of how to do a "good" review. It is not meant to be complete and will be enhanced, whenever I see new topics to be covered.

What is needed to do a "good" review:

  1. the component source code
  2. a license analysis tool, were you can review the license decisions like FOSSology. A simple license scanner without review capabilities won't do the job.
  3. the report to be reviewed
  4. a certain level of know how

Topics to be checked / verified during the review

The following list provides topics a reviewer shall check:

  1. is a main license assigned?

  2. are all copyright strings "cleaned", i.e. contain no garbage ( e.g. *, //, dnl,...) ?

  3. do the license texts contain garbage, like comment characers ( e.g. *, //, dnl,...)?

  4. do the license texts contain the "correct license text"? e.g. in FOSSology the BSD-3-Clause license is the template license of the SPDX license list. This is useless the individual license text has to be there. the "Public-domain license" in FOSSology is an explanation what "public domain" is. For the license compliance document this is useless

  5. for every particular license check whether it is really the license text the scanner has identified or not.

    Especially when the scanner identifies BSD-x-Clause check also for the wording in the disclaimer In case the scanner has identified ISC check also for the correct wording in the disclaimer

  6. is every from the scanner identified license concluded by a reviewer?

  7. do the analysis file contain strange or unknown license names as concluded licenses?

    License "names" like Apache-possibility, zlib-possibiliy, GPL without version number, Apache without version number, LGPL without version number, BSD, unclassified license, see file, see doc other, etc. shall no appear as concluded license

  8. are the licenses classified correctly? if you are using risk levels check whether all conluded licenses are correct classified

  9. if there are acknowledgements required by one or more licenses, are the relevant acknowledgements with all required elements contained in the OSS package analysis file?

    For example the CC licenses have other requirements concerning the content of the acknowledgement than Apache-2.0

  10. in case you are working with the license obligation feature of FOSSology are all obligations of all concluded licenses covered?

  11. are un-obvious license conclusions explained that others can reiterate the decision? This is especially important for license references which are internet links?

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