James Jessiman, during his free time, developed LDraw and LEdit, the 2 original LDraw programs. He also defined the initial version of the LDraw file format. He received a lot of feedback and his system flourished. In late July 1997, James died of influenza after a short period of illness. The community was shocked of this. Instead of disappearing, however, LDraw began to be taken care of by the community. In many volunteering hours, LDraw grew and grew. Many tools and parts were developed. Set inventories created. Colors researched. Images and videos created. Many things more. At some point, LDraw.org was formed, the Steering Committee and Standards Board were elected, and the development of official parts was formalized a little more to ensure a high quality and usability and consistency of those parts. Today, LDraw.org takes care of LDraw.
Eventually, in the 21st century, it was decided to re-license the library under the Creative Commons Attribution license, forming the Contributor Agreement. Nowadays, all official parts are released with this new license model.