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Silverpeas Licensing FAQ

1. Why move to GPL?

Silverpeas feels strongly that the future of software is open source. Not a little open source mixed with a lot of proprietary source. Free and open source software. It is open source, not hybrid models that will drive true disruption in the software industry, with greater value created for and by end-users.

The GNU General Public License (“GPL”) is the ideal license to drive forward this industry disruption. The GPL ensures that no vendor – including Silverpeas – can control a customer’s content. The GPL also provides the maximum assurance that the open source community and not, ultimately, Silverpeas, protects investments in our code.

We plan to be in business for a long time, but wanted a license that guarantees our users that Silverpeas, the code, will always be bigger and more enduring than Silverpeas, the company. This enables our community to invest in the Silverpeas code with maximum confidence that the investment will grow over time, and not be wasted.


2. Which version of the GPL are you using?

You may be aware that some licensors who use GPL allow their code to be licensed under the current version of GPL or “any later version.” This means that the code may be accepted by a licensee under the current version (which is now version 3) and any later version released by the Free Software Foundation, and the licensor may be bound by either sets of terms, depending on the choice of the licensee. Some other GPL projects, like the Linux projects, use a single version of GPL. We have decided to follow the lead of Linux on this point.

Until the end of 2007, our code was under GPL version 2. As in November 2007, the final release of GPL version 3 was finalized and released, we took some time for reviewing the terms of the new version before taking any decision. Our decision was taken and from that date our code is now under GPL version 3.


3. Does this make it easier to include Silverpeas in open source projects?

Yes, it does. Especially when you take into account our FLOSS Exception. Silverpeas’s GPL + FLOSS Exception policy gives the open source development community the world’s best content www with freedom to embed it in other projects, from Drupal to Jasper Reports to…you name it. In summary, the Silverpeas FLOSS Exception enables software provided under existing OSI-approved open source licenses to incorporate the Silverpeas Community software without having to license the entire software package under the terms of the GPL. We prefer the GPL, but you may not – if you’re an open source-licensed project, we give you additional choice. Please see our FLOSS Exception page for more details.


4. Does GPL conflict with Apache-licensed code. Given that Silverpeas incorporates Apache-licensed code (Spring, Lucene, and others), can Silverpeas license this code as GPL?

First off, this alleged incompatibility only applies to Silverpeas Community, which is licensed under the GPL. Those using Silverpeas Enterprise get our software under a Commercial License, so they do not have to worry about this at all.

As for Silverpeas Community (GPLv3 license) and its incorporation of Apache-licensed software, there is no incompatibility. The incompatibility exists only for the use both of GPLv2 code and of Apache-licensed code. Any GPLv3 project can include Apache-licensed code. The incompatibility raised only with the inclusion of GPLv3-licenced code into Apache-licenced project. For more information about the compatibility between the two licenses, please consult this page about the concern.


5. How will GPL affect my current use of Silverpeas as a licensed (paid or unpaid) user?

Regardless of whether you’re a paid (Silverpeas Enterprise) or unpaid (Silverpeas Community) licensee, this license change will not affect your use of any software you received from us prior to February 20, 2007.

With the move to the GPL, your use will be affected depending on what kind of Silverpeas user you are:

  • Silverpeas Community Users. Our re-licensing will not affect your rights in code you have accepted under the modified MPL prior to February 2007. If you accepted code under that license, you can still use it under that license. However, if you download an update from us of after the February 2007 release of Silverpeas Community 2.0, the update will be covered by the GPL plus FLOSS exception.
  • Silverpeas Enterprise Users. We provide our paid Silverpeas Enterprise customers with a Commercial License. So, in short, it will not affect you at all. While we are strong advocates of open source licensing, we recognize that some amongst our customers and partners may have different license requirements. Our Commercial Licensing is designed to meet these different needs for our paid customers. Our licensing change applies only to our Silverpeas Community product.


6. Our company has a strict policy against use of GPL software. What will I need to communicate to our Legal Department on our use of Silverpeas?

First off, we would encourage you to try the demo of Silverpeas (see Silverpeas demo/. It is the same code that we ship with Silverpeas , but is more rigorously tested, has full production and development support, is certified to work with leading third-party software (databases, application servers, etc.), and comes with improved documentation, immediate bug fixes, and other benefits. We deliver it to you under a Commercial License, a license that we extend when you decide to purchase an Silverpeas Enterprise Subscription. In short, you can use Silverpeas Enterprise without worrying about the GPL, if you’re concerned about it. (We prefer the GPL, but you may not, so we give you choice if you’re a paid subscriber.)

Your company probably instituted its policy about GPL software for one of two reasons: infringement risk and copyleft concerns. Some companies want to be sure that every bit of software in the enterprise is backed by warranties. If this is the case, you will need to use our Commercial License (Silverpeas Enterprise). But most companies are more concerned about copyleft requirements -- which is the word used to describe the requirement in the GPL that redistribution must only take place under GPL terms. If that is the issue, you may or may not need our Commercial License, depending on what you want to do with our software. Please see our Licensing Policy page for more information.

If, for whatever reason, you prefer to use Silverpeas Community, which is licensed under the GPL, and you don’t plan to redistribute the software (with or without modifications to it), then a commonly accepted industry view is that you may use the software without worrying about needing to release your own source code (the modifications to Silverpeas Community or code you integrate with it) as open source software. The copyleft requirements of the GPL are only triggered upon distribution. It is therefore commonly understood that only when you distribute the software outside your organization would you would need to release your modifications under the GPL. This is not legal advice from Silverpeas, however – you should seek competent legal counsel to best guide you in this matter.


7. How will GPL affect my current use of Silverpeas as an Silverpeas partner?

All Silverpeas partners work with and distribute Silverpeas. Your rights and responsibilities are completely unchanged by this license change, which only affects Silverpeas users.

If you are not an official partner and have been distributing Silverpeas, you will need to abide by the rights and restrictions of the GPL.


8. Our company markets specific solutions built on top of Silverpeas. What are the implications of moving to GPL for our solution offers?

If you are an official Silverpeas partner using Silverpeas Enterprise, there are no implications whatsoever to our license change. You will keep exercising your Commercial License to Silverpeas Enterprise, which will have terms mutually agreed upon between Silverpeas and you.

If you are not an official Silverpeas partner and are combining Silverpeas with open source-licensed software consistent with our FLOSS Exception, you will need to abide by the terms of our FLOSS Exception for any derivative works.

If you are not an official Silverpeas partner and are combining Silverpeas with proprietary software or open source-licensed software that is not consistent with our FLOSS Exception, you will need talk to us about a Commercial License or license your software under the GPL.


9. Our company has executed an OEM license for Silverpeas for use as an embedded component of our overall solution. What are the implications of a move to GPL for us?

As an official Silverpeas partner, you are using our software under a Commercial License. This change will not affect you in any way.


10. How will GPL affect my current use of Silverpeas ?

You will need to abide by the GPL modified by our FLOSS Exception if you upgrade to a new release of Silverpeas. If you prefer to remain with a previous version of the software licensed under the MPL + Attribution (our Silverpeas Public License), you will need to continue to abide by the terms of that license.


11. What is the FLOSS exception? Does it apply to me and what does it provide for?

Silverpeas’s FLOSS Exception allows specified Free/Libre and Open Source Software ("FLOSS") software to be able to use specified GPL-licensed Silverpeas software despite the fact that some of these other FLOSS licenses are not compatible with GPL. It is a way of allowing specified open source-licensed software projects to integrate with Silverpeas without having to change the license covering their projects to GPL.

The Silverpeas FLOSS Exception is only relevant to licensees wishing to integrate the Silverpeas Community software with other open source-licensed projects. Please visit our Licensing Policy page for more details.


12. Is there a precedent for this licensing model?

Yes. MySQL and others have used FLOSS exceptions for some time. They are increasingly common in the software industry as a way to provide all the benefits of the GPL while allowing GPL-licensed software to integrate well with other open source-licensed projects, which might otherwise not be integrated due to license incompatibility.


13. What happens if a popular open source project embeds and distributes Silverpeas. Is this allowable under the FLOSS exception?

If an open source project is licensed under one of the specified licenses in Silverpeas’s FLOSS Exception, then it may embed GPL-licensed Silverpeas software without requiring its software to also be licensed under the GPL. Please review the Silverpeas FLOSS Exception to ensure you are in compliance.

As a potential Silverpeas customer, why would I choose to license Silverpeas directly from you rather then take the embedded offering from an existing open source vendor?

This depends on what you are seeking. It may well be that the embedded offering, or its equivalent, is not available from Silverpeas. This is one of the wonderful things about open source: the community has theoretically unlimited resources to tailor the Silverpeas version of the software to a diverse set of needs. We help to start or continue “the content management conversation” with Silverpeas – we don’t expect to be the complete conversation.

However, for those looking for Silverpeas Enterprise – certified, rigorously tested, and supported software with access to the vibrant and growing Silverpeas Network – this is only available from Silverpeas or one of our official partners.

The choice is yours.


14. How does this change in Silverpeas’s license model fit within the overall market development of open source business applications?

The software industry is dividing into two camps: monolithic, proprietary stacks (where vendors seek to provide an end-to-end solution for all computing needs) and best-of-breed, open source and open standards stacks. We are part of this latter camp, and believe open source offers customers unparalleled choice, cost savings, and exceptional software. While much of the open source software applications market is still stuck “half-way” between proprietary and open source software, we believe that we are on the front-end of a growing trend toward greater openness in software licensing, and thus greater benefits for customers.


15. Will Silverpeas ever change its licensing policies again?

Over time, we may need to streamline our licensing policies to respond to developer needs and to ensure the stability and commercial viability of our products. Any changes to our policy will be posted on our website. But of course, if we change our policy, and you have received a license to our code under our free licensing terms, that will not terminate the rights you have already been granted. Any changes will only apply going forward to new releases of our code.


16. Where can I get additional information on Silverpeas 5.0 and Silverpeas licensing?

Please visit our Products page for information on Silverpeas 5.x . You can find our licensing information here.