After moving to the Apache Software Foundation, OpenOffice.org has changed its license from the GNU Lesser Public License to the Apache License. The ramification of changing the license from the copyleft license, LGPL, to the non-copyleft, the Apache License, will be that the corporations involved (Oracle and IBM, in this case) find it easier to distribute OpenOffice.org and its components as a non-free software.
According to the Free Software Foundation, freedom of the software cannot be guaranteed with the Apache License. Unlike the LGPL, the Apache License does not make it mandatory for the distributor to distribute the source code of the software.
All Apache projects are distributed under the terms of the Apache License. This is a non-copyleft free software license; anybody who receives the software can distribute it to others under nonfree terms. Such a licensing strategy represents a significant policy change for OpenOffice.org.
However, users and contributors should be aware that, as part of this transition, it will become easier for proprietary software developers to distribute OpenOffice.org as nonfree software.
The fact that the Apache License will make it possible for Oracle or other corporations to distribute OpenOffice.org and its derivatives as a non-free software is probably the only reason Oracle decided to give OpenOffice.org to the Apache Software Foundation and not The Document Foundation.
The fork of OpenOffice.org – LibreOffice – is now being recommended by the Free Software Foundation to both users and developers who want to contribute something. Unlike OpenOffice.org, LibreOffice is under The Document Foundation and they are committed to keeping LibreOffice under LGPL.
Fortunately, there’s a ready alternative for people who want to work with a productivity suite that does more to protect their freedom: LibreOffice. Anybody who’s comfortable with OpenOffice.org will find a familiar interface and feature set in LibreOffice, because it was originally based on the same source code. Since September 2010, numerous contributors have been working to improve the software, and the project’s legal steward, The Document Foundation, is committed to keeping it licensed under the LGPL.
Even though the Free Software Foundation is coming out with its support for LibreOffice over OpenOffice.org just now, OpenOffice.org has been practically dead for some time. After LibreOffice was released, all the major Linux distributions ditched it in favor of LibreOffice. Not only that, almost all of the OpenOffice.org contributors from the pre-Oracle era have already left it to contribute to LibreOffice. So, while LibreOffice has been releasing some very impressive applications, OpenOffice.org has been stagnating for some time now.