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Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2016 19:46:56 -0400
From: Rich Felker <>
To: Petr Hosek <>
Subject: Re: musl licensing

On Wed, Mar 16, 2016 at 10:50:18PM +0000, Petr Hosek wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 16, 2016 at 9:32 AM Alexander Cherepanov <>
> wrote:
> > Yeah, this is a crucial question IMHO. There was a similar discussion
> > about LLVM licensing recently:
> >
> >
> >
> >  From this thread I gathered that:
> > 1) Google is quite serious about CLAs;
> > 2) Google has ideas about copyright/licensing/etc which contradict
> > beliefs held widely in the community;
> > 3) Google is not inclined to explain the situation to the community,
> > judging by
> >
> >
> >
> > Given its past legal troubles, Google has enough stimuli to study the
> > topic very carefully and it could be right. But could be wrong as well.
> > Anyway, I don't think that just saying that CLAs are required is going
> > to change the opinion of the community.
> To clarify the CLA bit, we're not asking musl authors to sign the Google
> CLA. Instead, what we proposed was coming up with a CLA specifically for
> musl.

Yes, I think past discussions (either here or on IRC; I don't
remember) have already clarified that. But I still don't think it's an
interesting option; CLAs seriously deter contributions from new
contibutors, and I think there's an especially large overlap between
people who are interested in musl and contributing to it, and people
who are deterred by CLAs.

> Since someone, in this case most likely Rich as the project
> maintainer, has to re-license the files which are currently in public
> domain, one way is to have the past contributors sign a "musl project" CLA
> as a way to keep a track of the legal permission to use and distribute
> these files. However, this is a decision of the musl community and how you
> do the re-licensing is up to you, as long as you have the permission to
> re-license the files in question.

I still don't see what the problem is, unless your lawyers are under
the impression that there are "public domain" sources from third
parties. The COPYRIGHT file states:

"musl as a whole is licensed under the following standard MIT


"All other files which have no copyright comments are original works
produced specifically for use as part of this library, written either
by Rich Felker, the main author of the library, or by one or more
contibutors listed above. Details on authorship of individual files
can be found in the git version control history of the project. The
omission of copyright and license comments in each file is in the
interest of source tree size."

and finally:

"All public header files (include/* and arch/*/bits/*) should be
treated as Public Domain as they intentionally contain no content
which can be covered by copyright. Some source modules may fall in
this category as well. If you believe that a file is so trivial that
it should be in the Public Domain, please contact the authors and
request an explicit statement releasing it from copyright."

So as an aggregate/as part of musl, all of the "public domain" files
are _already_ licensed under musl's main license (by the very first
sentence) by people (their authors, i.e. primarily me) who would be
entitled to license them as such even if they were subject to

What I would like to do, if it would satisfy your lawyers, is add a
paragraph at the end (right after the public domain release text):

"Should the release of these files into the Public Domain be judged
legally invalid or ineffective, permission is hereby granted to use
these files under the following terms:

Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
modification, are permitted."

Does this work? And are there other blocking issues with copyright


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