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SMILA/Legal Documentation

Revision as of 09:45, 22 September 2008 by (Talk | contribs) (Summary)

The core of the legalisation

Source Code

Every source file must have a Copyright and License Notice. If the source is to be licensed under a license other than the Eclipse Public License Version 1.0 alone, you must ensure that the Eclipse Foundation has approved the notice.

Source files must have the Copyright and License Notice before the files are checked into the source repository.


The help documentation must have a Legal page with a copyright notice and a link to the About file in the plug-in that contains the help documentation. Documentation books usually contain a "Legal" page as the last page in the book.


Every build distribution, such as a zip or tar file, must contain a Eclipse Foundation Software User Agreement (SUA) in the root directory of the distribution in HTML format in a file named "notice.html".

A copy of the Project's primary license(s) must be in the root directory of the distribution in HTML format. In most cases, this will be the Eclipse Public License alone in a file named "epl-v10.html" In exceptional circumstances, the Board may approve the licensing of a project under license terms other than the EPL alone.


A feature is a set of one or more related plug-ins and/or fragments that can be installed and upgraded together. Every feature must have at least three (usually at least four) legal files:

For example:

(installation root directory)

features                   (features directory) 
  org.eclipse.sdk_3.0.1    (feature directory)  
    license.html           (#1 Feature License)
    epl-v10.html           (#2 Project's Primary License(s) (typically EPL alone) referenced by Feature License)     (#3 Feature Update License in "license" property )
plugins                    (plug-ins and fragments directory)       (#4 Feature Blurb in "blurb" property)

The first required file is "license.html". This file is required to be the SUA in HTML format (and thus an exact duplicate of the "notice.html" in the root of the distribution). This file is referred to as The Feature License.

The second required file is the Eclipse Public Licensein HTML format in a file named "epl-v10.html" (and thus also an exact duplicate of the "epl-v10.html" in the root of the distribution).

Each feature has a file named "feature.xml" with a license node. Often the strings in the "feature.xml" file are externalized in a "" file. Either way, the license node or property must contain the SUA in PLAIN TEXT format. This text (node or property) is referred to as The Feature Update License.

Each feature has at least one plug-in associated with it which is the "feature plug-in" for that feature. Not surprisingly, this plug-in usually has the same name as the feature. The "" property named "blurb" contains text that appears in the "About features" dialog in the Eclipse workbench. This is known as a "Feature Blurb." Blurbs often contain copyright notices and any other statements of attribution that may be required by licenses.


All plug-in directories must have an "about.html" file describing the license terms of the code and content of the plug-in. The "about.html" file may also contain other information such as whether the content contains cryptographic functionality that may be subject to export controls. These "about.html" are collective known as "Abouts."

Most plug-ins of Eclipse Projects are pure EPL and thus the about.html file will be default About for EPL plug-ins. If a plug-in contains non-EPL content About files must be About files for third-party content.

In JAR’ed plug-ins, any local files linked from an About such as copies of licenses, must be located in a directory called "about_files". The contents of the "about_files" directory are handled specially so that links resolve correctly when the About in a JAR’ed plug-in is viewed in an external browser spawned from the About dialog.

As an example:

(installation root directory)

 plugins                              (plug-ins and fragments directory) 
  org.apache.ant_1.6.2                (plug-in packaged as a directory) 
    about.html                        About 
    asl-v20.txt                       Apache Software License referenced by about.html 
    LICENSE.dom.html                  W3C License referenced by about.html 
  org.eclipse.core.runtime_3.1.0.jar  (plug-in packaged as a JAR) 
    about.html                        About 
    about_files                       (directory for any local files linked from about.html) 
      asl-v20.txt                     Apache Software License referenced by about.html


  • Every source file has a Copyright and License Notice

  • Every feature has the standard SUA in HTML in "license.html"
  • Every feature has the Project's primary license(s) (e.g., the EPL in "epl-v10.html")
  • Every feature has the standard SUA in plain text in "feature.xml <license>" or " / license"
  • Every feature plug-in has copyright notices, etc. in the "blurb" property of ""

  • Every plug-in has an "about.html", usually the standard one.
  • Every plug-in with a non-standard "about.html" contains the additional referenced license files.
  • Every ’ed plug-in stores linked files in "about_files"

  • Every help documentation set contains a Legal page

  • Every build distribution has the standard SUA in the root as "notice.html"
  • Every build distribution has a copy of the primary license(s) in the root, e.g., "epl-v10.html"

About File Templates


SUA – Eclipse Foundation Software User Agreement

The Software User Agreement is the agreement that governs the use of all software distributed by the Eclipse Foundation. The SUA references the Eclipse Public License as the primary vehicle to grant license rights and obligations to use the software. In addition, it also references other legal notices and agreements and describes the potential layout of the legal documentation in the accompanying Content. The reason for the SUA is that Eclipse-based content is highly modularized to facilitate ease of delivery, extensibility, and upgradeability. A typical Eclipse installation may potentially include plug-ins and features authored and/or distributed by many different parties including the Eclipse Foundation, other open-source organizations, and commercial vendors.

This modularity makes an Eclipse distribution somewhat different from a classical software product delivered with a single license file. The Eclipse Foundation SUA guides the consumer to the various licenses distributed through out the Eclipse Project distribution.

EPL – Eclipse Public License Version 1.0

The EPL was written specifically for the Eclipse Foundation. First, it changes the Agreement Steward, formerly IBM for the CPL, to now be the Eclipse Foundation for the EPL. Second, it addresses concerns some Eclipse Foundation members had with how the CPL deals with possible patent litigation. FAQ

CPL – Common Public License Version


EMO – Eclipse Management Organization (

PMC – Project Management Committee


A Guide to the Legal Documentation for Eclipse-Based Content

Eclipse Legal Process

All Open Source License

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