OpenMRS Contribution Policy

You and other contributors are part of the growing OpenMRS community.  We work together to share ideas, software, documentation, bug fixes, development tools, project management resources, and anything else of value that you contribute to create successful implementations of electronic medical record systems and other health resources for the world. We share credit with our contributors for our success.

Our Contribution Policy is simple: Voluntary contributions are gratefully accepted as long as the OpenMRS community and all downstream users are allowed to use those contributions for our public benefit mission.

There are many kinds of contributions we invite you to make for this cause:  

  • Tangible contributions of intellectual property such as source code and documentation, ideas and inventions, and other technical solutions to health care delivery problems
  • In-kind and financial donations to support our activities
  • Contributions of your time and your efforts to communicate and cooperate with each other in the OpenMRS project.

OpenMRS accepts intellectual property contributions of many kinds and then collects them into OpenMRS software distributions that are licensed to the public under the open source Mozilla Public License 2.0 with Healthcare Disclaimer (MPL 2.0 HD).  Non-code contributions such as documentation, images, or other creative works are made available under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The details around intellectual property contributions in particular are often tricky to understand.  As described more fully below, OpenMRS project teams review all software contributions to ensure that open source licenses for the contributions are compatible with the MPL 2.0 HD license. 

If you have questions about any aspect of the OpenMRS Contribution Policy, please contact 

Contributions of Intellectual Property

Software includes both functional and expressive works, and it sometimes arrives encumbered with many varieties of legal interests that can be owned, licensed, monopolized or sold, or limited for its use in derivative or advanced software,The OpenMRS project collects such contributed software into larger packages that we distribute as collective works under the MPL 2.0 HD license. To do so, we must ensure that the open source licenses applying to those contributions are compatible with MPL 2.0 HD and that there are no intellectual property encumbrances that would prevent the use of our collective software for health care delivery worldwide.

As is described in the OpenMRS Copyright and DMCA Policy, we respect all copyrights and copyright licenses.

To ensure licensing consistency, we take steps to determine that contributions of intellectual property are not encumbered. These are the steps:

  1. We accept contributions only from people who identify themselves with an account on OpenMRS websites (an "OpenMRS ID"). Each person's profile, and all other materials he or she posts on OpenMRS websites, is available to the public. See the OpenMRS Privacy Policy for more information.
  2. All contributions are required to be the contributor's own work licensed to OpenMRS under an approved open source license, or a work that is licensed to that contributor for redistribution to OpenMRS under an approved open source license. OpenMRS project teams have responsibility for knowing their contributors and those contributions, as would be expected of any professional software project. Random contributions from unknown project participants without information suitable for a NOTICE file are likely not to be accepted by an OpenMRS project.
  3. OpenMRS projects may accept ideas, suggestions, bug fixes, and other similar contributions from the public. The professional and academic rules of behavior in such situations say that we should identify and acknowledge those informal and formal contributions. A NOTICE file included with each OpenMRS distribution will identify the provenance of all contributions, to the best of the contributors' and the project team's current knowledge and belief. Each contributor is responsible for providing enough information so that the appropriate OpenMRS project team can prepare a correct NOTICE file.

Contents of the NOTICE File

The NOTICE file that accompanies every formal distribution of software by an OpenMRS project identifies each third-party component in that software and the open source or Creative Commons license under which that component is available to the public. The following information, if available, will also be included in the NOTICE file:

  • Copyright notices supplied by the licensor(s) of any part of the software. OpenMRS project teams may elect to remove individual copyright notices that detract from the "community" ethos of the project, but individual copyrights will still be protected by a legally-effective and encompassing copyright notice such as "Copyright (C) 2014 OpenMRS Inc."
  • Patent notices identifying specific patents or patent claims that may read on the software. Contributors and all project team members are expected to disclose any patent claims of which they are aware. In the event that possible patent claims may be confidential, the contributor must disclose enough about them to alert the public about possible future encumbrances. 
  • Identification of industry standards implemented by the software. 
  • OpenMRS projects and contributors may also include acknowledgement and attribution to individuals, companies or other organizations for significant portions of the software or its documentation, or who contributed in other ways to the project as a whole.
  • Other important notices that the OpenMRS project team or its contributors want to share with the downstream users of that software.

Approved Open Source Licenses for OpenMRS Contributions

OpenMRS relies on the recommendations of Open Source Initiative, the Free Software Foundation, and Creative Commons to determine which free and open source licenses are compatible with the Mozilla Public License 2.0 with Healthcare Disclaimer (MPL 2.0 HD) under which OpenMRS distributes software and documentation. 

Some of those licenses may not be compatible with the license requirements of some commercial companies. That is another purpose for the NOTICE file that OpenMRS projects provide with each software distribution. Each downstream modifier and/or distributor of OpenMRS software and documentation is responsible for making such license compatibility determinations for itself.

Rest assured that OpenMRS software and documentation can be used for free by everyone in the world under the open source MPL 2.0 HD license.