Many companies have contributed to openbabel (GPL) and RDKit (BSD). The Apache license is not as special as that post indicates.

In their criticism of GPL, that post uses MySQL as an example, yet misses a huge chunk of companies in the MySQL space who don't hold the copyright in MySQL trunk, yet are vibrant and making money. Skysql does not need permission from oracle to make mariadb. Percona also has no special permission for their long running business around MySQL. Or the announcement yesterday of the WebScaleSQL fork of MySQL by Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook was not blessed by oracle. Tons of companies contributing GPL code and making money, in ways far different from how that post indicates as possible.

The Apache license grants you patent protection from contributors, but does not grant you patent protection from noncontributors. The blog post's assertion that you have no patent liability when using an apache licensed product is just wrong. And the patent clauses and need for copyright assignment have caused many companies to not contribute to apache licensed products. Many companies ceased contributing to GPL products that adopted GPLv3 due to its patent clauses.

Licenses matter and I, like others on this thread, like the BSD license for new code, but a license cannot simply be changed for a historically copyleft project without contributor assignment.


On Mar 28, 2014, at 1:25 PM, lochana menikarachchi <> wrote:

I thought companies might be more interested in contributing to CDK if it is under apache 2.0..

On Friday, March 28, 2014 1:07 PM, John May <> wrote:

I choose BSD for new projects but it would be a lot of work to track down and get confirmation from everyone. 

Java is a bit of an odd ball since, almost everything is dynamically linked, the only exception being static variables

GNU’s official stance with Java is that "Applications which link to LGPL libraries need not be released under the LGPL" - I might add that to the README actually.


On 28 Mar 2014, at 06:17, Egon Willighagen <> wrote:

Hi Lochana,

On Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 3:43 AM, lochana menikarachchi
<> wrote:
Is there any reason to distribute CDK under LGPL license?

CDK was licensed LGPL because it was based on CompChem, Jmol, and
JChemPaint were LGPL.

Why not apache license?

I do not remember the reasons why those tools had that license.

If I had to (chance to) change the license of the CDK (which involves
getting in contact with a lot of people and getting approval) is to
move to BSD or MIT, not Apache...

What would it add? People already can embed the CDK in proprietary
software; I know the linking is always a bit unclear, but to me
(personally), anything not changing the CDK classes itself, is

Why would you not choose LGPL?

Also, did you guys thought about incubating CDK as an apache project??

What would that add? I sounds to me we would get a lot more formal
meeting if we would, distracting us from the work... ?

My 2 cents...


E.L. Willighagen
Department of Bioinformatics - BiGCaT
Maastricht University (
ORCID: 0000-0001-7542-0286

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