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Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2016 22:20:23 +0000
From: Josiah Worcester <>
Subject: Re: musl licensing

On Tue, Mar 15, 2016 at 3:00 PM Petr Hosek <> wrote:

> We work on Chromium project at Google. Our team, as well as several
> other teams here at Google, would like to start using musl in various
> open-source projects. This includes shipping musl as a part of SDKs
> and toolchains. However, after performing a standard license review,
> our open-source lawyers told us that there are two obstacles to us
> being able to use musl.
> The first issue is the lack of clarity around per-file licensing and
> copyright attribution. The other issue is the claim that some files
> (in particular, the public headers and C runtime) are in the public
> domain. While this might be technically correct, it's not legally
> sound and we would be legally unable to use these files without them
> being placed under copyright and an open source license. The most
> appropriate way of addressing both issues would be to include a
> copyright notice in individual source and header files.
> Rather than working around these issues by reimplementing parts of
> musl, we would like to work with the musl community to directly
> address these issues. We believe that our company's interpretation of
> the copyright and authorship is the same across the entire industry
> and resolving these issues would benefit both musl as well as projects
> which already do or plan to use musl.
> To address both issues, authors of all files in musl that are "public
> domain" or any other non-license will have to agree with relicensing
> their work under the MIT license (or any other compatible open-source
> license). Furthermore, all past and future contributors will have to
> to sign the Contributor License Agreement (CLA). Since the majority of
> musl authors are present in this forum, we're reaching out to you to
> ask whether this is something you would agree with and also to start
> the discussion within the wider musl community.

A few comments. First, is the COPYRIGHT file insufficient for making it
clear what the per-file licensing state is? If so, I suspect this could be
rather readily changed (the information is around). Second, it is believed
that those files that are marked as "public domain" are uncopyrightable. If
this legal theory doesn't quite fit, would e.g. explicitly declaring them
to be under CC0 or similar suffice? Third, is the CLA at all appropriate?
This is firmly *not* a Google-owned project, and to my knowledge Google
doesn't have similar requirements for any other third-party open source
projects used by them, even if they have contributions (substantial or
otherwise) from Google.

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