Why a license change to MIT makes sense for Flow users

We want to make Flow as free as possible to further its adoption. The current LGPL license has drawbacks with its copyleft clauses. Neos will remain GPL.

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When we created Flow, we wanted it to be as free as possible: the more Flow would be used, the more contributors, the better the quality and the better for the Flow/Neos ecosystem. Since we had already released Neos under GPL, LGPL seemed a natural fit for Flow.

We learned however, that LGPL with its copyleft clauses was not regarded as permissive as required when choosing a framework. As a result some companies that considered Flow as an application framework decided against it, due to its LGPL license.

To remove this obstacle we want to change Flow's license. This is part of a number of activities the Neos team is currently undertaking to ease the adoption of Flow and Neos, for example improving documentation and moving to Github among others.

Our reasons for the MIT license

We want to change Flow's license to MIT. These are the reasons:

  • The MIT license does not have a copyleft clause like the LGPL, removing a big adoption obstacle for companies

  • It is short, concise and understandable

  • It allows non-commercial and commercial applications alike

  • The MIT license is widely used by other frameworks (such as Symfony, Laravel, Ruby on Rails or jQuery) and accepted by companies and individuals alike

  • The only restrictions by the MIT license are that the license and the copyright statement need to be "included in all copies or substantial portions of the software"

How the license for Flow can be changed

By virtue of the Contributor License Agreement (CLA) the TYPO3 Association has the authority to change the license for Flow. As part of the current poll it is asking their members to be allowed to execute this right in coordination with us.

Taking advantage of the CLA at least once

The CLA allows the T3A to change the license of Flow without having to ask every single contributor. Therefore a license change is straightforward. However the administrative process every contributor has to go through before he/she can actually contribute, has proven to be a huge pain.

The Neos team voted on this topic last year and the result was clearly in favor of dropping the CLA to make contribution easier. While we actually benefit from the CLA for the license change, we will drop the CLA afterwards.

What about Neos?

Neos will remain licensed as GPL software. Why? There is the risk, that someone could take a Neos release, put another brand on it and sell it as their site-building solution. We do not want that.

We are confident that GPL is a good fit for our CMS, therefore we will also drop the CLA for Neos.

If you have any questions regarding this topic please contact us at hello (at) neos.io