02-13-2012 01:18 PM
I'm new to developing for Blackberry (but I've been playing with Android stuff for a while), so please go easy on me if this has been asked before. I did search around but had trouble finding the discussed anywhere.
After reading the AppWorld Vendor Terms and Conditions as well as the Blackberry SDK License Agreement, it seems that developing and distributing open source applications (GPL, or any license that requires the source to be made available) is strictly forbidden. Is this really the case?!
I have found a number of articles and postings about people porting open source apps and making them available on the Blackberry GitHub repository, for example DosBox or the Wikipedia browser based on PhoneGap, but this doesn't mean these apps are allowed to or have been made available in the AppWorld. Is the state of things really that a developer with enough know-how can sideload any application (open source or not) onto his Playbook, but Joe and Sally end-user going to the AppWorld are limited to closed source and restrictively licensed apps?
I am really hoping that with the active and growing open source community developing around the Playbook and encouraged by RIM (and with contributions from RIM developers!) that I would be able to submit my App with a GPL or Apache license and not have dream up some convoluted legalese based on what's in the Vendor and SDK agreements to force my users into. Are open source Apps allowed to be submitted and distributed on the AppWorld? What is the most common, standard EULA for Playbook AppWorld apps?
Thanks in advance for your help,
Solved! Go to Solution.
02-13-2012 04:25 PM
Yes, you can use open source components in your applications. You will have to satisfy the requirements of the licenses of those components, in addition to the requirements in the vendor agreement.
We recently clarified this area in the legal vendor agreement, but I'll now go check that the changes propagated to the right place.
Discalimer: I am not a lawyer, but I will try to get one to reply here. Or, i will get links to publicly available useful docs that will shed light on our position.
Note: I am on a short vacation break and will not be back until Thursday.
Eduardo, Sr Director, Open Source
02-13-2012 05:51 PM
Thanks for your reply! I understand from another thread here mentioning the Qt integration that it's okay to use or at least statically link to some open source libraries in your apps, depending on the terms of the particular licenses they employ. However, a portion of the AppWorld vendor agreement still seems to call this into question. I am specifically referring to section 10, section (k) which reads:
and (k) Applications shall not contain, or be derived in any manner (in whole or in part), from any software, including without limitation open source software, that requires the disclosure or distribution of the source code of the Applications, or any portion thereof, by RIM, its agents or independent contractors, including without limitation by means of the BlackBerry App World, or that requires that any third party proprietary software contained within an Application be: (i) disclosed or distributed in source code form; (ii) licensed for the purpose of making modifications or derivative works; (iii) reproduced and/or redistributed at no or minimal charge; (iv) permitted to be reverse engineered; or (v) otherwise distributed on terms that impede the ability to distribute and license such third party software as the licensor of such third party software sees fit;
The way I read this is that basically, no code within your application can be licensed under any open source agreement that requires the distribution of the source code, or (derived in whole or part) from any software that requires this.
I believe that this could technically be interpreted in such a way that if I have previously released an Android application under a license like the GPL, I then cannot distribute it through the AppWorld under the terms of the Vendor agreement, as I would either have to restrict the distribution of the source and in doing so violate my previous GPL license terms; or continue to make the source available but be in violation of my AppWorld Vendor agreement. What do you think? To me the wording here very strongly disallows the majority of the code of any AppWorld app to be licensed under any open source license, and further calls into question even using open source snippets, libraries or components.
Luckily, I re-read the section of the SDK agreement that I was concerned about and it turns out the restriction in there is only that you cannot redistribute or cause to be licensed under any open source license any "Distributable Code" from the SDK (ie. sample code from RIM). I don't believe this will be an issue for most Android developers like me converting their apps, so that's good.
I understand if you are on vacation so please don't feel you need to respond to this right away. When you are back, if you could please follow up on this though and help clarify this for me I would really appreciate it. I would be curious to know which, if any, open sources licenses are considered legally compatible with the Vendor agreement and 'safe' to use on the AppWorld.
02-20-2012 09:06 PM
02-22-2012 05:20 PM
I spoke with a company attorney. There is a modified vendor agreement that clarifies section 10(k); the document has not been pushed out yet but that should happen soon.
I understand that the current section 10(k) is somewhat confusing but the intent of the section is that you may incorporate open source components in your application, provided that the inclusion of those components does not compromise the proprietary nature of any RIM proprietary code and information or that of its third party licensors.
As I previously mentioned, you will have to satisfy both the requirements of the applicable open source license(s) and the vendor agreement.
I will let you know when the new vendor agreement is available.
Hope this helps,
03-21-2012 01:30 PM
Thanks for the reply! Sorry it took me a while to respond, I was busy working on my app and submitting it!
So based on your answer it sounds like RIM allows open source apps to be published and sold on AppWorld as long as the open source license used does not place any requirements/restrictions on RIM or RIM's software. I'm not an expert, but I don't believe that the GPLv3 or Apache 2.0 licenses contain anything that would affect RIM or it's partners as third party distributors or as the developers of the OS the applications run on.
Is the new Vendor agreement now live?
I haven't yet, but in a future update to my app I will make clear that it is licensed under the GPLv3.
Thanks again for looking into this for me!
03-21-2012 01:39 PM - edited 03-21-2012 01:47 PM
I believe the updated AppWorld Vendor Agreement will be out "very soon". I'll add some additional comments at that time, but licenses like BSD, MIT, ZLIB, and licenses like ASL have requirements that are normally quite easy to satisfy. Licenses like LGPL and GPL have more complex requirements that vary depending on the specifics of each license and each release. In particular, the "v3" versions have requirements that are significantly harder to satisfy than the older "v2" and "v2.1" versions - which is part of the reason why many OSS components have not switched to v3.
All with the disclaimer that I Am Not A Lawyer.
Feel free to reach out to me for more details; I'd like to help you and any developer interested in Open Source.
03-25-2012 02:01 AM
03-26-2012 06:07 PM
I cannot provide legal advice for multiple reasons, including that I am not a lawyer, but ASL2 is what many people call a permisive license and its requirements are normally not very hard to satisfy.
Note that most of the samples that RIM has open sourced use the ASL2 license. For example check out http://github.com/blackberry/NDK-Samples or many others.
03-26-2012 06:15 PM
Hi Thanks for replying so quickly. Then do you know who I can call or email to enquire how to satisfy the ASL2 since I really want having legalligations down the road.