Eclipse IP Process: Service Releases of Third Party Content

The primary role of the Eclipse IP Team is to reduce the risks associated with adopting open source software. In broad terms, they ensure that the licenses on content are compatible, that provenance is clear, and that content otherwise unencumbered from a legal point-of-view (strictly speaking, the team does all of this only for Type B requests). In other words, they do the sorts of things that every software project really needs to do (especially those projects that care about wide scale adoption), but software developers hate doing.

It’s impossible to remove all risk. The IP Due Diligence process is all about risk mitigation.

Project committers do play an important role in this work. The Eclipse IP Team does the heavy investigative work, but it is the committers who must bring intellectual property matters to the IP Team for their review. This takes the form of creating a contribution questionnaire (CQ) and then providing assistance where necessary to our analyst to investigate, and identify and resolve issues.

Experience has demonstrated that service releases of third party content are very low risk. By their nature, service releases include bug fixes only, and so don’t tend to include a lot of new intellectual property. Our experience is that bug fix releases generally change or add a few lines of code here and there.

Based on this experience, the Eclipse IP Due Diligence Process gives service releases of third party content a pass: project committers do not need to create a CQ or otherwise engage with the Eclipse IP Due Diligence Process for any service release of third party content that has already been approved.

That is, if a version of some bit of third party content has been approved by the IP Team, then service releases based on that approved version do not require any review. Just drop ’em into your build and have at it (e.g. if version 3.2 has been approved for use, a project can just use version 3.2.n without formal review).

Of course, if you suspect shenanigans or otherwise lack confidence in the status of the content, you can bring the service release to the IP Team in the usual manner. In fact, if you do suspect that maybe something labeled as a service release isn’t actually service release, please do engage the IP Team.

This and many other topics are covered by the Eclipse Project Handbook.

I’m at EclipseCon Europe. If I’m not in a session, I’ll be in the registration area. Ask me questions!

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