[Openmm-news] Change of license from MIT to LGPL for GPU kernels of OpenMM: Why and what does this mean for you?

Joy P. Ku joyku at stanford.edu
Wed May 13 11:06:25 PDT 2009

Change of license from MIT to LGPL for GPU kernels of OpenMM

Why and what does this mean for you?


Dear OpenMM user:


We envision OpenMM as a common platform benefitting the entire molecular
mechanics community, enabling researchers to focus on science and
companies to focus on products and services, rather than on difficult,
duplicated efforts to re-engineer molecular mechanics computations for GPU
acceleration. We want to encourage wide adoption of OpenMM, and also
foster a community of skilled GPU programmers who are able to build on and
extend OpenMM and are willing to share their work for others to use. 


We have been looking for the best licensing terms to achieve these goals,
and have decided that a combination of minimally-restrictive LGPL for GPU
kernels, and unrestrictive MIT licensing for the OpenMM API and higher
levels, provides a better balance than using MIT for everything, as we
have been doing. Consequently, we will switch to LGPL-licensed GPU kernels
effective with the next OpenMM release.


The LGPL license does not place any restrictions on software that
dynamically links to OpenMM libraries.  These programs can continue to be
distributed under whatever license is desired.  Software that uses
modified or extended versions of OpenMM GPU kernels, however, needs to be
shipped with source for the kernel modifications and sufficient
infrastructure to allow a user to perform further modifications and then
re-link the shipped application with those user-modified kernels. The
easiest way to achieve that is to contribute the kernel modifications back
to the OpenMM project, which maintains such source and infrastructure
available to anyone. Note that no other proprietary source need be
released, not even those parts which link with the higher level OpenMM
API, modified or otherwise, since those remain under MIT licensing.
Please see  http://www.gnu.org/licenses/lgpl.html for the complete details
of the LGPL license.


We hope that this change will help us achieve the twin goals of wide
adoption and community ownership of high-speed GPU kernels.  As always, we
appreciate your feedback and interest in improving OpenMM.



Joy Ku




Joy P. Ku

Director of Dissemination

Simbios, Stanford University


(W) 650.736.8434 

(F) 650.723.7461

Email:  joyku at stanford.edu

Website:  http://simbios.stanford.edu


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