Legal & Licensing

Q: What license does Open Health Tools release software under?

A: For Charter Projects, we use the Eclipse Public License (EPL) . The EPL is a commercially-friendly license that allows organizations to include EPL-licensed software in their commercial products, while at the same time requiring those who modify derivative works of EPL code to contribute the modifications (but not the derivative works) back to the community. The commercially-friendly nature of the EPL has been proven over and over as hundreds of companies ship products based on EPL-licensed code.


Q: Is everything licensed under the EPL?

A: No. The Charter Projects may contain code that was distributed under a different, but compatible license such as Apache or BSD. These are noted in the about.html files associated with the component. Open Health Forge postings are distributed under the license as chosen by the contributor.


Q: Can you tell me more about the EPL?

A: An excellent source of information about the EPL is the EPL FAQ’s provided by the Eclipse Foundation itself.


Q: Why does Open Health Tools use the EPL?

A: There are two answers to this. First, Open Health Tools has used a considerable amount of Eclipse code as the base of the Open Health Tools framework and reference applications. This code is, of course, covered by the EPL. EPL was chosen to maintain consistency with the existing code – we didn’t want to add yet another license to the pot. Second, we believe that EPL maintains the right balance between permitting commercial exploitation of Open Health technology, while requiring modifications, extensions, bug fixes etc to be submitted back to the community.


Q: In the Terms of Use, you say that contributors must “unconditionally waive your moral rights in any Content you post on the Website.” That sounds scary. What does it mean?

A: Moral rights vary from country to country, but basically they are a right that authors have to protect the “integrity” of their work. For example, even if you sold a painting to someone, in certain jurisdictions, you could prevent the purchaser from publicly hanging the painting upside down – as that could reflect badly on your reputation. In software, people in some countries might be able to exercise their moral rights to prevent their work from being used for the development of nuclear energy, or in an abattoir, or by citizens of specific countries or religious groups, depending on their personal beliefs. The problem we have is that the ability to exercise moral rights to limit the use of open source software is contrary to the spirit (and licenses) of open source code – where anyone may use the code, for any purpose, subject only to the constraints in the license. For more information on moral rights:
In the US, where there is little protection for moral rights, see http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/property/library/moralprimer.html.
In Canada, see http://creativecommons.ca/index.php?p=moralrights.