Legal Requirements

How to make sure your code contributions can be included in the Ocean Protocol codebase.

Ocean Protocol Software Licensing

All Ocean Protocol code (software) is licensed under an Apache 2.0 license. This page describes the Ocean Protocol policy to ensure that all contributions to the Ocean Protocol code are also licensed under the Apache 2.0 license (and that the contributor has the right to license it as such).

If you are:

  • contributing code to complete a currently-open Ocean Protocol bounty or

  • a current employee of BigchainDB GmbH

then there is nothing extra for you to do: licensing is already handled.

Otherwise you are an "external contributor" and you must do the following:

  1. Make sure that every file you modified or created contains a copyright notice comment like the following (at the top of the file):

    # Copyright Ocean Protocol contributors
    # SPDX-License-Identifier: Apache-2.0
    • If a copyright notice is not present, then add one.

    • If the first line of the file is a line beginning with #! (e.g. #!/usr/bin/python3) then leave that as the first line and add the copyright notice afterwards.

    • If a copyright notice is present but it says something like Copyright 2023 Ocean Protocol Foundation then please change it to say the above.

    • Make sure you're using the correct syntax for comments (which varies from language to language). The example shown above is for a Python file.

  2. You will be asked to include a Signed-off-by line in all your commit messages. (Instructions are given in the next step.) Make sure you understand that including a Signed-off-by line in your commits certifies that you can make the statements in the Developer Certificate of Origin. If you have questions about this, then please ask on Discord or elsewhere. Do not continue until you fully understand.

  3. Make sure that all your commit messages include a Signed-off-by line of the form:

    Signed-off-by: Random J Developer <[email protected]>

    with your real name and your real email address. Sorry, no pseudonyms or anonymous contributions. Tip: You can tell Git to include a Signed-off-by line in a commit message by using git commit --signoff or git commit -s.


The Developer Certificate of Origin was developed by the Linux community and has since been adopted by other projects, including many under the Linux Foundation umbrella (e.g. Hyperledger Fabric). The process described above (with the Signed-off-by line in Git commits) is also based on the process used by the Linux community.

The Future

In the future, the Ocean Protocol Foundation will dissolve and the policy will probably change to work more like the Linux Kernel, where every contributor must include a Signed-off-by line in all Git commits.

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Copyright 2024 Ocean Protocol Foundation Ltd.