Legal Team/Minutes/2010-11-19

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  • Kim Weins (OpenLogic)
  • Jilayne Lovejoy (OpenLogic)
  • Esteban Rockett (Motorola)
  • Kate Stewart (Canonical)
  • Tom Incorvia (Microfocus)


We spent the whole call discussing how to handle Python licensing.  Tom iIncorvia did a bunch of research on the Python license.  Essentially it was owned by 3 different groups prior to the Python Software Foundation - CWI, CNRI, BeOpen.  This happened as the primary author, Guido van Rossum, moved from company to company.

As the owner changed, the license changed, so there are several licenses that apply to different components of Python.  In addition, there appear to be tweaks to the license terms with each release, even when the owner did not change.

On the call, we determined that we should separate the Python licenses into separate licenses in the list.  However, we also felt that more research was required to see if different Python licenses might apply simultaneously to a single version.


After the call, I did further research to determine that there are, in fact, multiple licenses that can apply to any version of Python -- with older code under older licenses and newer code under the PSF license.

From the PSF website

"(1) In the earlier days of Python, employee contracts and related law ensured that the organizations that released Python under the various licenses had the rights to the code that was added in each release. The open source licenses used by those organizations granted all the necessary rights to the world in general, which of course includes the PSF. The only significant right the PSF does not have to this code is to re-license it. This is the reason for the continued existence of the older licenses in the license stack. Since some of the organizations involved no longer exist, it is unlikely that the PSF could obtain relicensing rights in the future. Thus, the older licenses cannot be removed from the license stack."

We will revisit this topic at the next meeting.