FAQ How is Eclipse licensed?

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The answer to this question depends on what aspect of Eclipse you are talking about. Everything you see on eclipse.org is governed by the Eclipse Web site terms of use (eclipse.org/legal). This document describes what licenses apply to the content, along with other legal information such as export control information. Everything you contribute through the Web site, including the Eclipse mailing lists, newsgroups, and CVS repositories, is governed by these terms of use.

Any software you download from eclipse.org is governed by a similar user agreement. This document, contained in a file called notice.html in the eclipse install directory, describes the licenses and other legal information that applies to the software. Each Eclipse plug-in typically has additional legal information in a file called about.html.

Unless otherwise noted in the Web site terms of use and software user agreement, most Eclipse content is licensed under the Common Public License (CPL). The CPL is approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI). The OSI is a non profit corporation dedicated to managing and promoting the Open Source Definition for the good of the community, specifically through the OSI Certified Open Source Software certification mark and program. Approval by the OSI bestows confidence on a license that it really is “open source.” The OSI also makes copies of approved open source licenses available on their Web site. The Eclipse Public License (EPL) is a new license, very similar to the CPL, that was introduced when the Eclipse Foundation was created. The EPL is currently undergoing OSI certification, and will eventually replace the CPL for any new content contributed to the Eclipse Foundation.

You should always speak with a lawyer for complete interpretation of any license, but it is safe to say that in essence the CPL provides free, unrestricted access to the source code and other creative matter it covers. CPL-licensed code can be redistributed or sold without making royalty payments to the copyright holders. The fact that dozens of companies are shipping commercial Eclipse-based products is a strong indication that the CPL is widely regarded as a safe, liberal open source license.

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This FAQ was originally published in Official Eclipse 3.0 FAQs. Copyright 2004, Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved. This text is made available here under the terms of the Eclipse Public License v1.0.