Monday, July 23, 2007

Snort License Q&A

This is a repost of a message I sent out on snort-users last week. For the sake of continuity I thought it'd be a good idea to post it here too.


Q1. Do these licensing updates change Sourcefire's commitment to open source.
A. No, Sourcefire remains committed to open source. Snort will always remain an open source product - period.

Snort 2.x licensing questions

Q2. What are Sourcefire's issues with GPL v3?
A. Simply stated, similar to Linus Torvalds' stance - GPL v3 is not the license we chose. Without a complete legal review and opinion of the entire work we can't comment on the specifics. We want to complete due diligence on the license and make an informed decision. We will publish our opinion when it's ready.

Q3. What is the practical impact to end users of the GPL v2 lock?
A. None. The lock provides us time to review GPL v3 and make an informed decision. End users are free to use, modify and redistribute Snort under GPL v2.

Q4. Is it within Sourcefire's right to change the language in the source code preamble comments to lock the license at version 2 of the GPL?
A. The new language that we incorporated for the 2.7.x release changes a notification provision that applies to the GPL, IT DID NOT CHANGE THE GPL. This is a permissible change because it's modifying the suggested language for header preambles in Snort 2.7.x, not the license itself. If you read the GPL you'll see that this language is suggested in the section that comes AFTER the Terms and Conditions of the license. The new language follows one of these suggestions and specifies which version we want our licensees to follow.

Q5. Is Sourcefire addressing the concerns raised by Victor and Will from the Snort-inline project.
A. Yes, we made some mistakes and have corrected them. Today's release of 2.7 addresses the issues raised by Will and Victor. If you have concerns regarding the headers or copyrights on code that you've contributed let us know and we'll take care of it.

Q6. Do the GPL v2 derivative works clarifications used in the Snort 3.0-alpha code base apply to the 2.x releases of Snort?
A. No, these clarifications apply only to Snort 3.0

Q7. Does the "assumptive assignment" clause from Snort 3.0 apply to the 2.6/2.7 releases of Snort?
A. No, the assignment provisions in the Snort 3.0 license do not apply past contributions. Sourcefire is in no way attempting to take ownership of the copyrights of past contributers.

Snort 3.0 Licensing Questions

Q8. Will Snort 3.0 be licensed under GPL (currently v2 only).
A. Yes.

Q9. Is Sourcefire claiming ownership of all contributed code?
A. No. The assignment clause in 3.0 will maintain your ownership of copyrights. It is simply a licensing agreement granting us the right to modify and relicense to 3rd parties.

Q10. Does this apply to past contributions?
A. No. Snort 3.0 is a completely new code base that is entirely developed and copyrighted by Sourcefire. If we incorporate past contributions to the 2.x code base as work on the Snort 3.0 project continues they will maintain their original copyright and license.

Q11. What if I refuse to accept the terms of the assignment?
A. As we said, simply tell us the terms under which you're contributing code and we'll work with you to come to an agreement. If we can't, you're free to maintain it as an external patch under any license you wish.

Q12. What is the practical effect of the derivative works clarifications?
A. For end users there are none. You are free to use and modify Snort as you do today. For anyone that modifies and redistributes Snort *and* adheres to the terms of the GPL, there are none. You may continue to modify and redistribute Snort as you do today. The only impact is on organizations that redistribute Snort and fail to adhere to the terms of the GPL.

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