[EP-tech] Is EPrints 3.4 and beyond open source software?
Tomasz.Neugebauer at concordia.ca
Thu Jul 27 21:20:24 BST 2017
Thanks to everyone who has commented on this. I have been away for a couple of weeks, struggling to make sense of this and trying to make a sensible recommendations in the best interest of the community; including EPS, which is a fundamental part of our community.
EPrints 3.3 is available under a GPL license (see: https://github.com/eprints/eprints)
“EPrints is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.”
The full text of the license is here: https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-3.0.en.html
EPrints 3.4 is a derivative work, “modified version” from EPrints 3.3, and therefore, the conditions of the GPL license are applicable to it.
The thing is that the GPL license is a copyleft license; i.e., it imposes restrictions on redistribution of “modified versions” with additional conditions/restrictions attached – in particular, distribution that prohibits further redistribution of the source code. That is my understanding of the GPL license. Similar to Dobrica’s comment, I also don’t understand how a GPL license could have a non-distribution clause attached to it – it seems to me that GPL prohibits precisely that sort of thing. I need to mention, however, that I’m not a lawyer.
In terms of recommendations for the community, I think that as responsible repository managers/administrators, we should, at the very least (1) ensure that source code that is merged with our repositories is granted to us under a known licence.
What I mean by that is that the licence that is attached to the source code is at the very least known to you and retrievable/referenced. The beauty of open source is that normally, as a community, we don’t have to waste time worrying about this because the open source license is implied in forums of exchange and sharing that takes place in collaborative development. The problem with EPrints 3.4, right now, is that its license is unknown. Apparently, it has some additional non-distribution clauses/conditions, but these don’t seem compatible with GPL, under which we normally share software in this community. So at the very least, I would recommend that if you are upgrading your repository with “managed availability” code, that you ask what license it is distributed to you under. I think that is responsible administration of a repository.
In addition to that, I would also make the case that open source is better; I know that one of the key justifications for using EPrints for us was its open source status. As a community, we are not powerless in this situation. We can express our support for open source by making it clear that we prefer for EPrints to remain compliant with GPL, and (2) wait for the time when an open source license comes with any modified versions before we install them. Even though it means indefinite delays (no public release date has been given for ‘managed availability’ code), I think I will nevertheless be waiting until the source code that is to merge with our repository comes with an open source license.
Those are my own personal thoughts on this topic.
From: eprints-tech-bounces at ecs.soton.ac.uk [mailto:eprints-tech-bounces at ecs.soton.ac.uk] On Behalf Of Barbara PETRITSCH
Sent: June-29-17 2:55 AM
To: eprints-tech at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Subject: Re: [EP-tech] Is EPrints 3.4 and beyond open source software?
thank you for bringing this up. I was not aware of this.
We are still operating 3.1. but in terms of having the possibility of an upgrade or not makes a big difference.
“Managed availability” does sound kind of concerning.
How should we as a community proceed?
Institute of Science and Technology Austria
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Email: Barbara.PETRITSCH at ist.ac.at<mailto:Barbara.PETRITSCH at ist.ac.at>
On 28 Jun 2017, at 21:22, Tomasz Neugebauer <Tomasz.Neugebauer at concordia.ca<mailto:Tomasz.Neugebauer at concordia.ca>> wrote:
It is time to bring up the question of whether or not EPrints 3.4 and beyond is open source software.
The answer to this question is determined by the license under which EPrints 3.4 is distributed.
These are Open Source software licenses: https://opensource.org/licenses
EPrints 3.3 has a GPL license.
What about EPrints 3.4? Is it distributed under a GPL license?
I ask this, because Eprints Services keeps referring to something called "managed availability", is that a new license?
The name "managed availability" doesn't sound like the name of an open source license, but perhaps "managed availability" doesn't refer to a new (closed source?) license, and EPrints 3.4 is still distributed under a GPL license?
What would be the equivalent of "managed availability" in the world of journal article availability? Not open access, right?
I think we deserve to have a clear answer to this, so that we can think about the implications for the community that has contributed to EPrints.
I saw on a slide from EPrints Services during the OR conference something like this:
"Open source software models have their limitations"
That may be so, but I, for one, am deeply committed to open source software in the open access repository space.
Open source is a value and a culture. It also has many advantages, and I probably don't need to list in detail on this list because you are all well aware of them, but let me just use a quote from a 2010 paper where I commented on my choice of EPrints:
"low initial cost, accessibility to evaluation without a limited trial period, availability to develop software enhancements without the need to convince a corporation of the enhancement’s financial viability".
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