Eclipse Public License

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Eclipse Public License
Eclipse Foundation Logo.svg
Author Eclipse Foundation
Latest version2.0
Published24 August 2017
SPDX identifierEPL-2.0
Debian FSG compatible Yes [1]
FSF approved Yes [2]
OSI approved Yes [3]
GPL compatible Optionally but not by default [4]
Copyleft Limited [2]
Linking from code with a different licence Yes [5]
Website   OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

The Eclipse Public License (EPL) is a free and open source software license most notably used for the Eclipse IDE and other projects by the Eclipse Foundation. It replaces the Common Public License (CPL) and removes certain terms relating to litigations related to patents. [6]


The Eclipse Public License is designed to be a business-friendly free software license, and features weaker copyleft provisions than licenses such as the GNU General Public License (GPL). [7] The receiver of EPL-licensed programs can use, modify, copy and distribute the work and modified versions, in some cases being obligated to release their own changes. [8]

The EPL is listed as a free software license by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI). [3] [2]

Discussion of a new version of the EPL began in May 2013. [9] Version 2.0 was announced on 24 August 2017. [4]

On January 20, 2021, the license steward for the license was changed from Foundation, Inc. (Delaware, USA) to Eclipse Foundation AISBL (Brussels, Belgium). [10]


The EPL 1.0 is not compatible with the GPL, and a work created by combining a work licensed under the GPL with a work licensed under the EPL cannot be lawfully distributed. [7] The GPL requires that "[any distributed work] that ... contains or is derived from the [GPL-licensed] Program ... be licensed as a whole ... under the terms of [the GPL]", and that the distributor not "impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted". The EPL, however, requires that anyone distributing the work grant every recipient a license to any patents that they might hold that cover the modifications they have made. [7] Because this is a "further restriction" on the recipients, distribution of such a combined work does not satisfy the GPL. [2]

The EPL, in addition, does not contain a patent retaliation clause. [2]

Derivative works

According to article 1(b) of the EPL, additions to the original work may be licensed independently, including under a proprietary license, provided such additions are "separate modules of software" and do not constitute a derivative work. [11] [8] Changes and additions which do constitute a derivative work must be licensed under the same terms and conditions of the EPL, which includes the requirement to make source code available. [8]

Linking to code (for example to a library) licensed under EPL automatically does not mean that your program is a derivative work. Eclipse Foundation interprets the term "derivative work" in a way that is consistent with the definition in the U.S. Copyright Act, as applicable to computer software. [12]

Later versions

If a new version of the EPL is published the user/contributor can choose to distribute the software under the version with which he or she received it or upgrade to the new version. [8]

Comparison with the CPL

The EPL was based on the Common Public License (CPL), [13] but there are some differences between the two licenses:

The Eclipse Foundation sought permission from contributors to re-licence their CPL code under the EPL. [14]

Version 2.0

Version 2.0 of the Eclipse Public License (SPDX code EPL-2.0) was announced on 24 August 2017. [4] The Eclipse Foundation maintains an FAQ. [15] The FSF has analyzed the license in relation to GPL license compatibility and added it to their official list. [16] The bare license notice is available in several formats, including plain text. [17]

In terms of GPL compatibility, the new license allows the initial contributor to a new project to opt in to a secondary license that provides explicit compatibility with the GNU General Public License version 2.0, or any later version. If this optional designation is absent, then the Eclipse license remains source incompatible with the GPL (any version). [4] [16]

Other changes include: [15]

The Eclipse Foundation advises that version 1.0 is deprecated and that projects should migrate to version 2.0. Relicensing is a straightforward matter and does not require the consent of all contributors, past and present. Rather, the version 1.0 license allows a project (preferably after forming a consensus) to adopt any new version by simply updating the relevant file headers and license notices. [15] :§3

Notable projects

In addition to the Eclipse Foundation, the EPL is used in some other projects, especially those running on the Java virtual machine.

Licensed solely under the EPL

Multi-licensed under the EPL and one or more other licenses

See also

Related Research Articles

The MIT License is a permissive free software license originating at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the late 1980s. As a permissive license, it puts only very limited restriction on reuse and has, therefore, high license compatibility.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Open-source license</span> Software license allowing source code to be used, modified, and shared

Open-source licenses facilitate free and open-source software (FOSS) development. Intellectual property (IP) laws restrict the modification and sharing of creative works. Free and open-source software licenses use these existing legal structures for the inverse purpose of granting freedoms that promote sharing and collaboration. They grant the recipient the rights to use the software, examine the source code, modify it, and distribute the modifications. These licenses target computer software where source code can be necessary to create modifications. They also cover situations where there is no difference between the source code and the executable program distributed to end users. Open-source licenses can cover hardware, infrastructure, drinks, books, and music.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Apache License</span> Free software license developed by the ASF

The Apache License is a permissive free software license written by the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). It allows users to use the software for any purpose, to distribute it, to modify it, and to distribute modified versions of the software under the terms of the license, without concern for royalties. The ASF and its projects release their software products under the Apache License. The license is also used by many non-ASF projects.

The Open Software License (OSL) is a software license created by Lawrence Rosen. The Open Source Initiative (OSI) has certified it as an open-source license, but the Debian project judged version 1.1 to be incompatible with the DFSG. The OSL is a copyleft license, with a termination clause triggered by filing a lawsuit alleging patent infringement.

In computing, the Common Public License (CPL) is a free software / open-source software license published by IBM. The Free Software Foundation and Open Source Initiative have approved the license terms of the CPL.

The Mozilla Public License (MPL) is a free and open-source weak copyleft license for most Mozilla Foundation software such as Firefox and Thunderbird. The MPL license is developed and maintained by Mozilla, which seeks to balance the concerns of both open-source and proprietary developers; it is distinguished from others as a middle ground between the permissive software BSD-style licenses and the General Public License. So under the terms of the MPL, it allows the integration of MPL-licensed code into proprietary codebases, but only on condition those components remain accessible.

The Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL) is a free and open-source software license, produced by Sun Microsystems, based on the Mozilla Public License (MPL). Files licensed under the CDDL can be combined with files licensed under other licenses, whether open source or proprietary. In 2005 the Open Source Initiative approved the license. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) considers it a free software license, but one which is incompatible with the GNU General Public License (GPL).

Multi-licensing is the practice of distributing software under two or more different sets of terms and conditions. This may mean multiple different software licenses or sets of licenses. Prefixes may be used to indicate the number of licenses used, e.g. dual-licensed for software licensed under two different licenses.

This comparison only covers software licenses which have a linked Wikipedia article for details and which are approved by at least one of the following expert groups: the Free Software Foundation, the Open Source Initiative, the Debian Project and the Fedora Project. For a list of licenses not specifically intended for software, see List of free-content licences.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Public-domain-equivalent license</span> License that waives all copyright

Public-domain-equivalent license are licenses that grant public-domain-like rights and/or act as waivers. They are used to make copyrighted works usable by anyone without conditions, while avoiding the complexities of attribution or license compatibility that occur with other licenses.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">European Union Public Licence</span> Free software license

The European Union Public Licence (EUPL) is a free software licence that was written and approved by the European Commission. The licence is available in 23 official languages of the European Union. All linguistic versions have the same validity. Its latest version, EUPL v1.2, was published in May 2017. Revised documentation for v1.2 was issued in late‑2021.

License proliferation is the phenomenon of an abundance of already existing and the continued creation of new software licenses for software and software packages in the FOSS ecosystem. License proliferation affects the whole FOSS ecosystem negatively by the burden of increasingly complex license selection, license interaction, and license compatibility considerations.

License compatibility is a legal framework that allows for pieces of software with different software licenses to be distributed together. The need for such a framework arises because the different licenses can contain contradictory requirements, rendering it impossible to legally combine source code from separately-licensed software in order to create and publish a new program. Proprietary licenses are generally program-specific and incompatible; authors must negotiate to combine code. Copyleft licenses are commonly deliberately incompatible with proprietary licenses, in order to prevent copyleft software from being re-licensed under a proprietary license, turning it into proprietary software. Many copyleft licenses explicitly allow relicensing under some other copyleft licenses. Permissive licenses are compatible with everything, including proprietary licenses; there is thus no guarantee that all derived works will remain under a permissive license.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Free-software license</span> License allowing software modification and redistribution

A free-software license is a notice that grants the recipient of a piece of software extensive rights to modify and redistribute that software. These actions are usually prohibited by copyright law, but the rights-holder of a piece of software can remove these restrictions by accompanying the software with a software license which grants the recipient these rights. Software using such a license is free software as conferred by the copyright holder. Free-software licenses are applied to software in source code and also binary object-code form, as the copyright law recognizes both forms.

BSD licenses are a family of permissive free software licenses, imposing minimal restrictions on the use and distribution of covered software. This is in contrast to copyleft licenses, which have share-alike requirements. The original BSD license was used for its namesake, the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), a Unix-like operating system. The original version has since been revised, and its descendants are referred to as modified BSD licenses.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Copyleft</span> Practice of mandating free use in all derivatives of a work

Copyleft is the legal technique of granting certain freedoms over copies of copyrighted works with the requirement that the same rights be preserved in derivative works. In this sense, freedoms refers to the use of the work for any purpose, and the ability to modify, copy, share, and redistribute the work, with or without a fee. Licenses which implement copyleft can be used to maintain copyright conditions for works ranging from computer software, to documents, art, scientific discoveries and even certain patents.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">GNU General Public License</span> Series of free software licenses

The GNU General Public License is a series of widely used free software licenses that guarantee end users the four freedoms to run, study, share, and modify the software. The license was the first copyleft for general use and was originally written by the founder of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), Richard Stallman, for the GNU Project. The license grants the recipients of a computer program the rights of the Free Software Definition. These GPL series are all copyleft licenses, which means that any derivative work must be distributed under the same or equivalent license terms. It is more restrictive than the Lesser General Public License and even further distinct from the more widely used permissive software licenses BSD, MIT, and Apache.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">GNU Free Documentation License</span> Copyleft license primarily for free software documentation

The GNU Free Documentation License is a copyleft license for free documentation, designed by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) for the GNU Project. It is similar to the GNU General Public License, giving readers the rights to copy, redistribute, and modify a work and requires all copies and derivatives to be available under the same license. Copies may also be sold commercially, but, if produced in larger quantities, the original document or source code must be made available to the work's recipient.

The Shared Source Initiative (SSI) is a source-available software licensing scheme launched by Microsoft in May 2001. The program includes a spectrum of technologies and licenses, and most of its source code offerings are available for download after eligibility criteria are met.

Software relicensing is applied in open-source software development when software licenses of software modules are incompatible and are required to be compatible for a greater combined work. Licenses applied to software as copyrightable works, in source code as binary form, can contain contradictory clauses. These requirements can make it impossible to combine source code or content of several software works to create a new combined one.


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  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Various Licenses and Comments about Them" . Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  3. 1 2 "OSI approval" . Retrieved 21 June 2007.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Milinkovich, Mike (24 August 2017). "Eclipse Public License version 2.0 approved by OSI and Eclipse Foundation Board of Directors". Eclipse Foundation. Ottawa, Canada. Retrieved 19 October 2017. The new EPL v2 will now optionally allow EPL licensed projects to be compatible with the GPL. ... The new EPL v2 will allow initial contributors to new projects to specify if they want their EPL v2 licensed project to be GPL compatible.
  5. 1 2 In section 7, this sentence is in CPL 1.0, but not EPL 1.0: "If Recipient institutes patent litigation against a Contributor with respect to a patent applicable to software (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit), then any patent licenses granted by that Contributor to such Recipient under this Agreement shall terminate as of the date such litigation is filed."
  6. 1 2 3 "Open Source Software: a legal guide | LawGives". LawGives. Archived from the original on 30 July 2020. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
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  9. "[License-review] Change in Steward for the Eclipse Public License 2.0". Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  10. "Eclipse Public License (EPL) Frequently Asked Questions" . Retrieved 18 December 2009.
  11. Beaton, Wayne. "EPL-2.0 FAQ | The Eclipse Foundation". Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  12. "CPL to EPL Transition Plan" (PDF). 12 September 2006.
  13. "CPL To EPL Transition Plan Frequently Asked Questions" . Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  14. 1 2 3 Beaton, Wayne. "Eclipse Public License 2.0 FAQ". Eclipse Foundation. Ottawa, Canada. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  15. 1 2 Robertson, Donald (17 October 2017). "Eclipse Public License version 2.0 added to license list". Free Software Foundation. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  16. Eclipse Public License — v 2.0 (TXT). Ottawa, Canada: Eclipse Foundation. 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
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