Google Adjusts WebM License

When Google announced the initial release of WebM — its collaborative drive to create a new open video format for HTML5 — there was much excitement within the Open Source community. Amid the excitement, however, was concern about the project's licensing, concern that quickly led to calls for change.

On Friday, Google announced that, in response to the community's concerns, a "small change" was made to WebM's license, restoring the "pure BSD nature" of the license as well as GPL compatibility. The change modifies the license's patent clause to reflect the GPL3 and Apache patent clauses, which separate rights to patents from rights to copyright. Under the original license, anyone bringing patent litigation against Google would have surrendered all rights granted by the license — the new language clarifies that only patent rights would be terminated, the same penalty incurred under the GPL3 and Apache licenses.

Google's Open Source Programs Manager Chris DiBona noted that in making the change, the company has avoided creating a new Open Source license, a practice which many consider harmful to Open Source in general. Additionally, Google updated other portions of the license and supporting documentation to clarify the license terms and the rights granted under it.

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