Translations/LicensingFAQ

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Launchpad Help > Translations > Translation licensing FAQ and other legal aspects

We have now updated the "Translations copyright" section of the Launchpad terms of use to require that translations submitted in Launchpad licensed using the BSD licence, but also that groups of strings from one project which are a derivative work of the project are licensed under the licence of the project.

Why was this needed?

Translations are freely shared between projects on Launchpad. Copyright complicates that free exchange. That's why our terms of use require that, when you translate in Launchpad, you grant us the right to share those translations with other projects. To the extent translations are aggregated together such that the result is a derivative work of a particular project, that derivative is licensed under the license of the rest of the project.

Why the BSD license?

The BSD license is universally compatible. This lets you share and combine with projects under GPL, LGPL, BSD, and many other licenses.

Why not public domain like the FSF's Translation Project?

For all practical purposes, BSD license is very much like disclaiming any copyrights, similar to what Translation Project does by asking for disclaimers in writing. However, you still get to keep your copyright, which is slightly easier to manage.

Does that mean my translations may be used in proprietary software?

Yes, this risk exists. However, we believe that the advantage of having large translation memories for free software far outweighs the risk of having free software translations end up in proprietary software.

Keeping track of how each string is allowed to be used would be much more difficult, and gain us relatively little.

If and when we allow proprietary projects to use Launchpad for translation, they will get the same translation suggestions as anyone else. Those may include translations you entered (and conversely, those projects' translations may be included in the suggestions you receive as well).

If I don't want my translations licensed under BSD, what will you do?

If you don't want your contributions licensed under BSD, do not use Launchpad for translating, although we'll be very sad to see you go.

Can I select a packaged translation from some other template?

Yes, however, it is up to you to check licensing compatibility. For example, you should not reuse nontrivial translations from a GPL module in a BSD-licensed project without asking the author for permission. An icon warns of potential licensing issues.

You can freely reuse a few translations, though, because that's what copyright laws allow. Also, accidental matches between translations for short phrases should not make you worry.

I have no problem with BSD myself, but I also uploaded translations from upstream. What do I do?

As long as the uploads were marked as translations that were published elsewhere, they fall under a separate copyright regime: those imports will retain their original copyright license. The BSD licence only applies to translations that are (as far as the system knows) original to Launchpad.

What is the exact text of the BSD license?

There are a few variants of the text available, but the differences are minor and the variants should be legally equivalent:

     Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
     modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are
     met:

       * Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
         notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.

       * Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above
         copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following
         disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided
         with the distribution.

       * Neither the name of the <ORGANIZATION> nor the names of its
         contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived
         from this software without specific prior written permission.

     THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND CONTRIBUTORS
     "AS IS" AND ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT
     LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR
     A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE COPYRIGHT
     HOLDER OR CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL,
     SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT
     LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE,
     DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY
     THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT
     (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE
     OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.

(In the third clause, "the <ORGANIZATION>" would be replaced with your name.)

Note that this is the modern, simplified BSD license, that is, without the advertising clause (see the full history of the license for more information). In modern times, this simplified, three-clause version is the most widely used.

Translations/LicensingFAQ (last edited 2012-05-01 13:32:01 by matthew.revell)