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OpenOffice in a more open worldJay Lyman, March 6, 2008 @ 10:05 pm ET
OpenOffice.org has announced that the project will be moving from its current LGPLv2 licensing to the LGPLv3 with a coming version 3.0 of the open source office software suite. Sun’s Simon Phipps says the move will give OpenOffice developers greater protection from software patent enforcement and threats because the LGPLv3 allows creation of mutual patent grants between developers. Also among the biggest changes is a move from the Joint Copyright Assignment (JCA) to the Sun Contributor Agreement (SCA), effective immediately. OpenOffice.org Community Manager Louis Suarez-Potts says this change, plus an addendum specifically for OO.o core and plugin developers, enabling OO.o to more easily host the source code of extensions (without shared copyright), promoting potential collaboration. The move to LGPLv3 was supported by the project’s Community Council and by project leads, Suarez-Potts says.
Interestingly, OpenOffice.org’s announcement comes on the same day Microsot has made another interoperability announcement, this time centered on document formats. Described as an important part of Microsoft’s kinder, gentler approach to open source and interoperability, the Document Interoperability Initiative consists of multi-vendor work on testing and refining implementations and creation of interoperability templates for different formats. While a number of vendors, including Novell, were present for the announcement, Sun was not one of them. Nevertheless, Microsoft says its Cambridge interoperability lab will test and improve interoperability of Microsoft’s OOXML and ODF on platforms including Mac OS X, Linux, iPhone, Palm OS, Symbian and Windows Mobile.
Suarez-Potts expressed skepticism of Microsoft’s initiative, indicating the company is surely more interested in promoting its own products than in interoperability. Certainly, Microsoft is interested primarily in promoting its own products, but that now means doing things differently.
Regardless of how skeptical you may be about Microsoft’s stance and maneuvering around document format, or how doubtful one might be that LGPLv3 will boost collaboration and innovation, it seems hard to argue that OpenOffice, and the rest of the world’s software, doesn’t exist in a time and place far more open than where it began.
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