openlp.org is an open source lyrics projection application developed specifically for churches. it's licensed under the GNU General Public License, which means that it is free to use and distribute, and it stays free.
openlp.org's purpose is to project the lyrics of songs and Bible verses using a computer and a data projector. At the request of its users, the developers have included presentation automation, video and image display as well.
openlp.org is open source software. This means that the source code (the programming instructions the developers write) is open to anyone who wants to look at it. This gives you, the end user, a few freedoms.
From a more developer orientated perspective, it gives you the freedom to inspect the code and make sure that it's not malicious, it gives you the freedom to change it, and it gives you the freedom to "fork" the project and make your own.
From an end user perspective, it gives you the freedom to use the software as you wish, it gives you the freedom to not pay for the software, and it gives you the freedom to make copies of the software and give it to anyone you want.
GNU General Public License
The GNU GPL was specifically chosen because it ensures the above-mentioned freedoms. It specifically states that you're not allowed to charge for the software, and that you have to distribute the source code as well.
You can find a copy of the GNU GPL with openlp.org, or online at http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/gpl-2.0.txt
A Brief History
OpenLP was registered on SourceForge.net in February 2004 by Tim Ebenezer. The software was first released on 28 February 2004 as version 0.1, and contained the bare basics of the application. Version 0.4, released on 16 February 2004, was the first release with multi monitor support.
On 18 March 2004, the 0.x line of OpenLP officially entered beta status with the release of version 0.5. By version 0.8, OpenLP had implemented most of the desired functionality. Version 0.994 was the last release in the 0.x series of OpenLP, and was released on 11 October 2004.
In mid-2004 Raoul Snyman joined the project, and suggested some architectural changes. With this in mind, Tim Ebenezer decided to drop the 0.x line and rewrite OpenLP from scratch, with a redefined user interface. After various delays, OpenLP 1.0 beta 1 was finally released on 3 October 2005. At this stage, Tim also decided to rename OpenLP to openlp.org.
After the release of beta 1, Tim became too busy to work on openlp.org, and in early 2006 Raoul took over the project. After an extensive beta and release candidate program, openlp.org version 1.0 was released on 1 February 2008.
Initially, Raoul was going to work on a new version of openlp.org, version 1.2, in order to add fix up various faults in the implementation of the software, while a new group of developers would work on OpenLP 2.0, a new cross-platform version of the software. However, after looking at the progress of version 2.0, and consulting the other developers, Raoul decided to cease work on version 1.2.
In the mean time, Derek Scotney joined the project, helping Raoul work on bugfixes for openlp.org 1.0. When Raoul moved on to help develop version 2.0, Derek continued to support version 1.0 with bug fixes. In October 2009 Derek released a new version of openlp.org that he had been working on, one that provided a backing track feature that his church needed.
The OpenLP team released the first alpha version of OpenLP 2.0, OpenLP version 1.9.1, after about 18 months of development. This release was a preview release to show the community what the development team had been working on. It was at this stage that the team renamed OpenLP back to it's original name. Since then, there have been releases every 3 months.
After over 2 years of development, the OpenLP team released their first beta of OpenLP 2.0 on 27 March 2011. With the release of this first beta, the OpenLP team announced that there would be no more bug fix releases for openlp.org 1.2, and that the beta release should be stable enough for most churches.