What is a "project"?

Created by Karl Fogel on on 2009-06-18
Keywords:
proprietary license commercial subscription

Launchpad.net is "free for open-source projects". That means it's free for projects that produce software, documentation, art, or any creative work is that is open source according to the guidelines at https://help.launchpad.net/Legal/ProjectLicensing.

For Launchpad's purposes, a "project" is a body of work that is useable by itself. The project does not have to be software: it could be documentation, or any other kind of creative work. However, if it depends on proprietary (non-open-source) components to be useable in its normal mode of use or operation, then it would not qualify for free hosting. Proprietary projects are still welcome to use Launchpad, they just require a commercial subscription.

To help clarify, below is an example -- it happens to use software, but remember that these guidelines apply to non-software projects too:

For Launchpad's purposes, a software program is a project if you can run it on a computer. Of course it may use other operating system components, or other programs, but as long as those external pieces are not specific to just this one program, then Launchpad considers the program to be a "project" by itself. But if the program requires other proprietary pieces in order to run, and those pieces are specific to the program, then the program is not a useable work by itself, and so would not be an open source project for Launchpad's purposes.

These issues come up when people occasionally want to use Launchpad to host complicated projects, with some parts on Launchpad and other parts elsewhere. This is fine: the Launchpad parts still qualify for free hosting as long as the overall project is open-source. But if the parts hosted on Launchpad can really only be used together with proprietary parts that are distributed elsewhere, then the project as a whole is not open-source. It would have to purchase a commercial subscription to use Launchpad, even if the parts hosted on Launchpad are technically under a free license.

The above is meant as a statement of guiding principle. Applying this definition to a given project can involve complex judgement calls, and therefore Canonical reserves the sole right to judge whether a given use of Launchpad qualifies for free hosting.