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Theo de Raadt Responds to Linux Licensing Issues 455

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the getting-things-straight dept.
bsdphx writes "While Theo may have a reputation of being "difficult" in some circles, this response to the recent relicensing controversy is thoughtful and well penned. Through this whole process I've learned some new things about both GPL and BSD licensing, and especially about combining the two."
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Theo de Raadt Responds to Linux Licensing Issues

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  • Compiz/Beryl (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 01, 2007 @08:27AM (#20432871)
    Exactly the same thing happened with the Compiz/Beryl farce.

    The Beryl developers took the BSD code and GPL'd it without the original authors permission. The exact same reasons of 'evil companies' will steal BSD code was given, but the 'evil' Beryl developers were the only ones taking but not giving back.

    People should learn that even though this is open source they still have to respect other peoples rights.
    • Re:Compiz/Beryl (Score:4, Insightful)

      by audi100quattro (869429) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @09:43AM (#20433229) Homepage
      They made their rights clear when they licensed it under the BSD license. If you want others to share code, make it mandatory and use the GPL. If you just want credit for what you've written, you're still getting it with dual-licensed code. Oh, wait, you want to be able to use the changes as well under the original license? I'm sorry. Don't license it under the BSD license and expect someone else more comfortable with the GPL to make large changes and not use the GPL. The GPL is just more honest and upfront, and it's the GPL's fault?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 01, 2007 @08:27AM (#20432881)

    He says that you cannotmodify a file to remove a license without permission, but he fails to acknowledge that a dual licensed file gives you that permission with the other license. If the GPL gives me permission to modify a file, then I can remove the BSD license from that file. If the BSD license gives me permission to modify a file, then I can remove the GPL license from that file. So long as I comply with the remaining license, I have permission to distribute the result, as the remaining license is what gives me legal permission from the copyright holder.

    GPL fans said the great problem we would face is that companies would take our BSD code, modify it, and not give back. Nope -- the great problem we face is that people would wrap the GPL around our code, and lock us out in the same way that these supposed companies would lock us out. Just like the Linux community, we have many companies giving us code back, all the time. But once the code is GPL'd, we cannot get it back. Ironic.

    No, not ironic. Just dishonest. You say all along that taking without giving back is the ultimate freedom, you criticise the GPL for not allowing more of this, you allow it for proprietary software, but just as soon as GPL software does something you consider to be similar (even though the source is still out there, it's unusable to you), then you have a problem? You can't get the code back from proprietary software either, but you don't bitch and moan when proprietary software does it, in fact you criticise the GPL for not allowing it. This just looks like you have a problem with the GPL, hold it to a higher standard than everybody else, including yourself.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pbf (98406)
      Your comment misses the point. What Theo claims (and he is right about it) is that by removing the BSD licence you don't contribute back to the BSD project that created the code you took. In other words you are doing just what you claim companies would be doing, because as soon as you put that under the GPL, the BSD project cannot use it anymore.

      What he said is that this type of action is equal to not playing the community game as far as the BSD project is concerned. Your code maybe available for Linux, but
      • by DaleGlass (1068434) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @09:29AM (#20433155) Homepage
        *scratches head*

        Your comment misses the point. What Theo claims (and he is right about it) is that by removing the BSD licence you don't contribute back to the BSD project that created the code you took. In other words you are doing just what you claim companies would be doing, because as soon as you put that under the GPL, the BSD project cannot use it anymore.

        Right, but the BSD in fact gives you the permission to do this

        What he said is that this type of action is equal to not playing the community game as far as the BSD project is concerned. Your code maybe available for Linux, but it is not available anymore for OpenBSD or other non-GPL project. In essence you are removing freedom on code you did not create. This is what is ironic.

        Weirdest thing I've heard lately. This pretty much agrees with the GPL concept of "freedom" and seems to imply that BSD should be GPL licensed.

        *head explodes*
        • No, it simply implies that the BSD license is less restrictive (more "free") than the GPL.
        • by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @09:52AM (#20433289) Homepage Journal

          *scratches head*

                  Your comment misses the point. What Theo claims (and he is right about it) is that by removing the BSD licence you don't contribute back to the BSD project that created the code you took. In other words you are doing just what you claim companies would be doing, because as soon as you put that under the GPL, the BSD project cannot use it anymore.

          Right, but the BSD in fact gives you the permission to do this
          - BSD does not let you remove the BSD license from the BSD code. Also NO license can supersede the copyright.

          BSD allows you to use the code in your own project, your own project can be then redistributed with BSD code in it, however the BSD license cannot be removed from the BSD code. BSD code can be modified but the BSD license cannot be removed from the modified file either. It is not possible to add a new license to a BSD licensed file without permission of the original copyright holders.

          However you can take BSD code, add it to your own project and distribute just the binaries of your project without giving any source code to anyone and it is not illegal under BSD. But BSD is a license and it cannot be legally removed from a licensed file.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by naapo (982524)

            It is not possible to add a new license to a BSD licensed file without permission of the original copyright holders.

            Of course it is. You just cannot remove the BSD license from the original code you did not wrote. GPL and BSD are compatible in this sense; you can for example add a function to a BSD licensed file and put a note there that the said function is licensed under GPL. Also, you can add GPL-licensed files into BSD-licensed project (GPL specifically allows it, and BSD license does not forbid it). After that you cannot distribute the combined work without agreeing to both the BSD and GPL licenses; of course o

            • by roman_mir (125474)

              It is not possible to add a new license to a BSD licensed file without permission of the original copyright holders.
              Of course it is. You just cannot remove the BSD license from the original code you did not wrote.


              There was nothing in my sentence that covers this situation. I was not discussing the situation when new code is added to an existing file. I was only talking about the original file. Please learn to read carefully.
          • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @10:33AM (#20433523) Homepage Journal
            However you can take BSD code, add it to your own project and distribute just the binaries of your project without giving any source code to anyone and it is not illegal under BSD. But BSD is a license and it cannot be legally removed from a licensed file.

            I still think that's bizarre though. All this licensing stuff is just headache-inducing.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by roman_mir (125474)
              Well, if you want to provide your copyrighted code to others and want them to acknowledge you and follow the rules that you set for distribution of this code, then you'll have to get into those little details.
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by squiggleslash (241428)

              I have to agree with you. I read Theo's rant a couple of times and couldn't see where he was coming from.

              What he appeared to be saying is that he and Eben believe that, contrary to what the community thinks and what was the apparent intent of the original copyright owners, dual licensing isn't providing the end user with a choice of licenses (as far as redistribution goes), but forces them to use distribute under the terms of both. (Ironically, as all of the conditionals imposed by the BSD license are al

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Kjella (173770)
                Well, if that was true the results would be an earthquake. The requirement to distribute under the BSD would then be an "extra requirement" as per the GPL, which means no code under any other license is compatible with the GPL. So would "v2 or later" be to "v2 only" code, so they could not mix either. It's an interesting legal theory but it goes against all established practise so far.
              • by NoMaster (142776) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @06:59PM (#20436321) Homepage Journal

                I read Theo's rant a couple of times ...
                Your prejudice betrays you - if that was a rant, then it was the kindest, gentlest one in the whole history of public discussion.

                Now, Theo has a (somewhat) well-deserved reputation for abrasiveness - he certainly doesn't suffer (people who he thinks prove themselves to be) fools gladly - but the more I read of the bsd-* lists, the more I kinda like the guy. He doesn't bite without reason, though you may be left wondering what that reason is...

                Go read those posts again. He's not ranting, he's not raving, he's not flaming - he's stating fairly clearly why he thinks it's disappointing, in a sadly ironic way, that some people who ostensibly support a licence which forces freedom are taking advantage of a different one which merely hopes for it.

                From a BSD licence POV, it's like "free software" is a community space with free open access and a right to use however you want - and the GPL is where somebody has come along and built a fence around part of it. Theo's saying that yeah, sure, it's allowed - but it's just sad that a part chooses to take advantage of the generosity and open nature of the whole...

              • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Saturday September 01, 2007 @08:41PM (#20436951) Homepage
                I think it comes right from the BSD License itself:

                Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

                * Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.

                Nowhere does the BSD license allow you to remove the BSD license from the code, in fact it states the exact opposite. Which of course is kind of a mess, since your modifications to a BSD covered file might be covered under a different license, thus effectively covering the whole file under that different license and making the BSD license kind of useless, but you still have to keep it in.
          • So if you wanted to add some code to a BSD project and wanted to use GPL for yours contribution, it would be better to do like this:
            distribute the modified version under the GPL (which is the more restrictive and allowed by BSD) with a note regarding part of the code being under BSD (and putting all the stuff BSD requires) and a link to the original BSD work you modified.

            It's still not giving back to BSD but is giving back to the community nonetheless.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by m50d (797211)
            BSD code can be modified but the BSD license cannot be removed from the modified file either.

            Unless you have the permission of the copyright holder. Such as them giving you the software under another license which allows you to modify it, like, say, the GPL.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by rumith (983060)

            But BSD is a license and it cannot be legally removed from a licensed file.
            No it can, since the file is dual-licensed. Take Qt, for instance: it is available under two licenses, GPL and QPL, which directly contradict each other. And you are only capable of accepting one of them, and that's exactly what you have to do. Once I accepted the GPL, there wasn't a single mention of QPL in the source code anywhere. How difficult can that be?!
        • by gbjbaanb (229885)
          But it doesn't. The BSD give you no right to remove the BSD licence at all. You can do what you like with the contents as long as it .. retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.

          You cannot just say, "oh, its BSD, I can do whatever I like with it" and relicence it. I *think* you can dual licence it (or after major changes) under the GPL but you cannot remove the BSD licence, its not your to remove.
          • However... (Score:3, Informative)

            by Junta (36770)
            The point is, the code from inception was organized by the developer as 'either GPL or BSD'. Anyone contributing code to that should recognize that. If someone choses to follow GPL, devs shouldn't get offended, they knew what they were getting into. If you don't want to play by the rules of a segment of a project, go away. Claiming that people cannot strip the BSD license on a redistribution is like saying because one of the licenses is GPL, you must always ship the source code. It's ok to dual-license
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by brass1 (30288)

              The point is, the code from inception was organized by the developer as 'either GPL or BSD'. Anyone contributing code to that should recognize that. If someone choses to follow GPL, devs shouldn't get offended, they knew what they were getting into. If you don't want to play by the rules of a segment of a project, go away. Claiming that people cannot strip the BSD license on a redistribution is like saying because one of the licenses is GPL, you must always ship the source code.

              But that's just the problem isn't it? It seems to me that the original authors intended to allow everyone who receives their work the option to license the work under either the BSD or the GPL license. If you strip one of the licenses out of the file aren't you specifically denying everyone the right to choose with license they want to use?

              The intent of the original authors was for everyone to have the choice of license, not just the guy who submits the kernel patch.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Ozwald (83516)
          Wow, I can't believe I'm reading this. This is the equivalent of taking a GPL file, adding another license, then taking away the GPL because "the second license allows it". Of course if anybody did this, there would be 1000 posts in this thread instead of 100.

          Okay, lets be clear:

          1) Someone wrote some code for OpenBSD, and licensed it with the BSD license.
          2) The code is now allowable to be in OpenBSD, Linux, Windows, Solaris, cruise missiles.
          3) Now, someone *could* insert their code and license it with anyth
        • by Jimithing DMB (29796) <dfe AT tgwbd DOT org> on Saturday September 01, 2007 @04:26PM (#20435515) Homepage

          Theo is bringing up two independent points in his message. The first point is that choosing to use the code under the GPL license does not mean you are allowed to remove the notice that it may be used under the BSD license. The second point is that while you are allowed to license modifications under a different license you are encouraged to license them under the BSD license. The points are somewhat intertwined which is why he makes them together.

          As for the first point, his argument is simply that the BSD license requires that it not be removed from the source file. It is a modified BSD so it no longer requires acknowledgement when advertising a product using the code which is the specific part that made it incompatible with the GPL. It does still require that the notice remain with the code. You will note if you look at a project such as Apple's xnu that the BSD copyright notice and license remain intact on BSD source files with the APSL added to it. Likewise, the Mach copyright notice and license remain intact on files that came from Mach. Similarly, I moved the region code from X11 into wxWidgets and you can clearly see in the source code (src/generic/regiong.cpp) that the X11 license remains intact. Did I have to do this? For X11 no because X11 only requires that the copyright stay in the source file and the license be part of the program's supporting documentation. Had it been BSD licensed I would have been forced to keep the BSD license in the source code. Regardless, I did it anyway as a gesture of good faith.

          This brings us to the second point, that of giving back to the commons you took from. As you point out, the BSD license does not require it! Yet somehow, the BSD codebase continues to grow with contributions not only from individuals but also from companies. The reason for this is that people feel obligated to give back useful portions of their work to the commons despite not being legally obligated to do so. Theo's observation here is simply that many companies are contributing back to BSD but that individuals wanting to use the code for GPL projects are taking a hard-line stance that because BSD does not require it, they will not do it. He's also pointing out that it's gotten worse than that because it has become so prevalent to insert BSD code into a GPL program and license the modifications under only the GPL that several individuals now feel they can remove the BSD license and copyright notices as well.

          In other words, modifying the BSD code and licensing the modifications under a different license is allowed by the license and therefore technically legal but considered wrong. Removing the BSD license is against the license and therefore illegal.

      • by gatzke (2977)

        If you release dual licensed code under GPL and BSD can't use it anymore, is that worse than taking BSD code and closing it so nobody gets it?

        Dual licensed code you should be able to get either "version", GPL or BSD. You can then release it after modification as GPL, BSD, or dual.

        AFAIK, BSD allows for modification and commercialization without forced release of source.

        GPL requires source release, so commercialization is out and the BSD guys can't use it.

        Which one is more in the mindset of "free as in freed
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BitZtream (692029)
      Except generally both of those licenses say they can not be removed. You can choose to use one of them, but in most cases the original work, which is part of your modification, must still remain available under both licenses. By removing one, you are in fact, breaking the rules.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by brass1 (30288)

      He says that you cannotmodify a file to remove a license without permission, but he fails to acknowledge that a dual licensed file gives you that permission with the other license. If the GPL gives me permission to modify a file, then I can remove the BSD license from that file. If the BSD license gives me permission to modify a file, then I can remove the GPL license from that file. So long as I comply with the remaining license, I have permission to distribute the result, as the remaining license is what gives me legal permission from the copyright holder.

      I'm sorry, but no. Let's put it terms of the GPL: If you remove one of the licensees in a dual-licesned source file, then you force every other person who receives that file (from your source tree) to accept the one license you left behind. You have, therefore, have denied the people who receive someone elses work from you a right you know the original author intended to convey to everyone. That's more than just dishonest, that's illegal.

  • It's weird how Theo de Raadt writes about GPLd code:

    "Thanks for what you wrote, but this is a one-way street, you give us code, and we take it, we give you you nothing back. screw off."

    I agree with Theo it would be somewhat rude to extend the driver with GPL-only additions, which is possible and seems to have been proposed. But still, I wouldn't exactly call publishing GPLd code to be "giving nothing back". At least you can see the code, and the community is free to use it within the GPL limitation
    • by Zatacka (1136621) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @08:40AM (#20432917)
      So what he's basically saying is that he'd like modifications to the code to remain in the open. They should create a license that makes sure that always happens! Oh wait...
      • The BSD licence is chosen to allow as much freedom as possible. Of course this comes with the risk that people will just plunder the code and never give anything back, or release additions under a more restrictive licence. The letter of the law shouldn't be the only thing that guides us though - we have to think of the spirit in which the licence was created. The Tivoisation controversy is a good example in which the GPL was technically observed yet the spirit, at least in the eyes of the FSF, was violated.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jadavis (473492)
        So what he's basically saying is that he'd like modifications to the code to remain in the open.

        These are the points that I took away from his statements:

        (1) That people were breaking the law, and encouraging others to break the law.
        (2) He feels that building code on top of BSD code, and then licensing the improvements with GPL, is unethical. He didn't say it should be forbidden.

        The first point is much more serious. If we do have high-up linux developers breaking the law and encouraging others to do so, the
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      At least you can see the code, and the community is free to use it within the GPL limitations.

      That's just it. Due to the GPL's viral nature, the BSD community cannot just "use it within the GPL limitations". Those "GPL limitations" would reportedly turn around and force the entire OpenBSD source base to be licensed under the GPL.

      Now, that isn't the sort of thing that the BSD community wants. We like BSD-style licenses because they bring us the greatest degree of freedom, while still offering us some degree
      • That's just it. Due to the GPL's viral nature, the BSD community cannot just "use it within the GPL limitations". Those "GPL limitations" would reportedly turn around and force the entire OpenBSD source base to be licensed under the GPL.

        But the BSD license allows that! It could have well been integrated into some closed source, and then you'd never ever see any improvements to it. And if somebody ever found the source to that, you can bet they'd sue you if you merged it.

        What I think annoys Theo about the GP

      • by fsmunoz (267297)

        Just as somebody who developed GPL software probably wouldn't want to be forced into releasing it under the terms of the BSD license, a developer who releases their code under the BSD license doesn't want it GPL'ed.

        This is what I don't really understand here. I I write some code and offer it under a dual BSD/GPL license I'm obviously expecting that someone will say "I'll choose the BSD license, thanks". If I didn't, I wouldn't be releasing under a dual licensing scheme in the first place. If dual licensing (saying "you candistribute this code under the GPL *or* the BSD license, at your choice) is always covered by both licenses, then I don't get it. Furthermore, it would imply - and the post you replied to mentioned

        • by fsmunoz (267297)
          I failed to address one imporant issue, that is the removing of one of the licences during distribution. My apologies for that. I was under the impression that it could be done, but it is less clear if a distributor (or developer) can, by choosing to be covered by one of the licenses, remove the other one. I think that it can be done - otherwise I'm not sure how would a company distribute dual-licensed code it reveiced without releasing it aslo under a GPL license, but it is less clear cut than my previous
      • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

        That's just it. Due to the GPL's viral nature, the BSD community cannot just "use it within the GPL limitations". Those "GPL limitations" would reportedly turn around and force the entire OpenBSD source base to be licensed under the GPL.

        I suppose this is possible. Devil's in the details. But I would point out that it isn't always a given. The "viral" nature of the GPL seems to get blown out of proportion. For example, this is a meme that Microsoft has often pushed despite the fact that they themselves use GPL code [microsoft.com]. Oddly enough, this has not forced the entire Windows source base to be licensed under the GPL.

    • The problem is that a file with the BSD license removed cannot be shared back with the BSD project, from whence it came in the discussion before us. Removing the BSD license makes the code less free, it binds it in the shackles of the GPL, so the code can flow only one way, out of BSD to GNU/Linux. All Theo is saying is give peace a chance.
  • by Novus (182265) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @08:35AM (#20432891) Homepage
    While I am not a lawyer, it seems to me that Theo is confused about what the dual licence in question actually says. I quote:

    Alternatively, this software may be distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License ("GPL") version 2 as published by the Free Software Foundation.
    In other words, the author specifically allows you to distribute provided you meet all the requirements of the GPL and nothing else. Well, the GPL says that you have to license your work under the GPL (see section 2b), which they did. In other words, the wording of this dual licence allows the redistributor to choose one licence or the other and thus remove the dual licensing; Theo is wrong. Of course, Theo is right about removing the BSD licence from code.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 7-Vodka (195504)
      Not only this, but because it is clearly stated that you can use either license, if you use the GPL license you can most definitely strip out the BSD license completely (and vice versa) because the licenses don't protect each other.

      Sorry Theo, but the author's wishes are there in black and white: use either license and toss out the other if you wish for distribution.

      It's really not that hard to understand, if you want the BSD license to always be applicable to derrivatives, license under BSD only; If you

    • by stony3k (709718) <stony3k.gmail@com> on Saturday September 01, 2007 @08:55AM (#20432985) Homepage
      While it does appear that he could be wrong legally, he is quite right from an ethical perspective. There is a lot of great work being done by the BSD folks and it would be quite impolite to tell them, "Hey thanks for your code, but you won't get anything back from us". I think the right thing to do would be to continue to use the dual license for the work in question.

      If you're very worried about your improvements being close-sourced, perhaps it would be better to write your driver from scratch, rather than cutting off one part of the community. A tiff between the BSD and GPL camps is the last thing we need.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by schon (31600)

        There is a lot of great work being done by the BSD folks and it would be quite impolite to tell them, "Hey thanks for your code, but you won't get anything back from us"
        Considering that's the entire goddamned point of the BSD license, how on earth could such an attitude be considered unethical?

        Long story short, Theo is a hypocrite.
        • by stony3k (709718) <stony3k.gmail@com> on Saturday September 01, 2007 @12:33PM (#20434281) Homepage
          The point is that the original code could have continued to be dual-licensed and then it would have helped both BSD and GPL camps. By removing the BSD license (which they may not have the rights to do - IANAL but maybe that can only be done by the original copyright holder), they have now cut off part of the community. That is not ethical, IMHO.

          I'm generally a strong believer in the GPL, but in this case I find myself sympathizing with Theo. Also, even though the BSD license allows anyone to close the source, in general, the BSD developers like to have changes given back - they just don't like forcing people to give back improvements. It's like an honor system, and in this case they feel changing the license to GPL was dishonorable, especially since the Linux devs should have known better.
      • You hit the nail on the head. Most arguments made against Theo seem to be based on the fact that the dual-licence allowed this to happen. This ignores the idea of professional courtesy.

        For example, I could invite you around my house and say "If you're hungry, grab something from the fridge". While it would be 'legal' for you to empty the entire contents of my fridge in to the back of your car and drive off with all my food, it's not exactly ethical.
        • by DaleGlass (1068434) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @10:13AM (#20433419) Homepage

          For example, I could invite you around my house and say "If you're hungry, grab something from the fridge". While it would be 'legal' for you to empty the entire contents of my fridge in to the back of your car and drive off with all my food, it's not exactly ethical.


          Exactly right! Except "grab something from the fridge" is very fuzzy, while the GPL and BSD are very specific about what exactly they mean, and have been debated to death. By now everybody understands exactly what the BSD means.

          Now the lesson is this: If what you feel and what say do not match, then you're going to have problems, and they'll only be your fault.
          If you say "Feel free to borrow my lawnmower whenever you need", and then your friend takes it right when you needed it, and that annoys you, whose fault is that? Your.
          If you say "Feel free to take my source and do whatever you want with it", and then they do, and the conditions under which they license it annoys you, whose fault is that? Your.

          The problem here is exactly this: Some people licensing software under the BSD do it trying to appear more altruistic than they actually are (not saying this is all of them though). In this case Theo seems to be demonstrating that what he thinks should happen with his code, and the terms he actually licensed it under differ.

          If there's something you don't want to be done with your software, don't release it into the public domain or under the BSD.
          If you don't actually want to have your project forked or built upon, don't release it under the GPL.
          If you don't want to have friends suddenly show up at 3AM, then don't tell them they can do that just because you wanted to look polite.
          If you offer to drive somebody somewhere, and that they actually accepted your invitation annoys you, then you shouldn't have done that.

          IMO, trying to appear more polite and altruistic than you actually are is the cause of much annoyance in the world.
          • Yep, I think that clarifies things perfectly, very nice post. I suppose the moral of the story is that when you allow a lot of freedom, you can't be too surprised when your lawmower vanishes for weeks on end.
      • I think the right thing to do would be to continue to use the dual license for the work in question.
        Unfortunately, that may not always be possible. If you for instance add some GPL-licensed code to the dual licensed code, the resulting code must be GPL-only (unless you own the copyright on the additional code).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kjella (173770)
        BSD people are happy to let closed source corporations take the code, give no source and make money off it, but not as a starting base for an open-source community (GPL meets OSI definition I think) that doesn't want closed source derivates? It's just another case of BSD developers going "Waaaaaaaaaa, you use our code like we licensed it" or "Waaaaaaaaaa, you're making a GPL project that'll be more successful than ours". It's not "being impolite" when you're doing exactly what the license asks of you, and w
      • by asuffield (111848)

        While it does appear that he could be wrong legally, he is quite right from an ethical perspective. There is a lot of great work being done by the BSD folks and it would be quite impolite to tell them, "Hey thanks for your code, but you won't get anything back from us".

        The statement of intent made by using the BSD license is "You may use this code however you want, and you don't have to give us anything back". It may not be desperately generous to do exactly what they said and not give anything back, but th

    • He was speaking about a dual GPL-BSD licensed code.

      A few days ago, one of the author posted a patch on LKML that removed the BSD license.
      This patch hasn't been included in the mainline kernel, since all developers have to agree to change the license.

      Nothing particularly interesting, but some time ago, there has been a big fuss about some (almost all) code taken from linux's bcm43xx, included in openBSD public CVS without notice of original authors or correct license.

      Here's the link to the slashdot story: h [slashdot.org]
    • I take it you haven't been following this story in detail, since the original code is ISC-licensed, not BSDL.

      The chronology is this:

      1. OpenBSD developer reverse-engineers binary blob.
      2. OpenBSD developer releases code under the ISC license, which is even more permissive than the BSDL, so it can be used as widely as possible.
      3. Linux developer starts working on a Linux port of the code.
      4. Linux developer dual-licenses his changes (and thus the combined work) under the ISCL/GPL.
      5. Linux developer removes the ISCL a
    • He's arguing that the license itself is a part of the software and therefore it's bound by the distribution rules.

      Dual BSD/GPL licensing is a contraption that is used for one reason only - to let GPL projects use code from BSD projects. It is not meant to "free" this code. Think of it as a friendly gesture from BSD folks rather than an action of GPL adepts.

      BSD/GPL is viral form of BSD that propagates the spirit of BSD in exactly the same way GPL does. Not everyone in O/S world subscribes under GNU's vision
  • BSD license (Score:3, Insightful)

    by josephdrivein (924831) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @08:39AM (#20432909)
    If you wish for everyone to remain friends, you should give code back.

    That means (at some ethical or friendliness level) you probably do
    not want to put a GPL at the top of a BSD or ISC file, because you
    would be telling the people who wrote the BSD or ISC file:

    "Thanks for what you wrote, but this is a one-way street, you give
    us code, and we take it, we give you you nothing back. screw off."


    It's not true: he can modify and distribute under BSD the original code that was released under BSD, he can't distribute as BSD whatever was added and licensed under GPL. So none is stealing his work, they are just licensing their intellectual work as they feel it's better.

    Exactly as Theo did when he decided to use BSD license: he choose BSD for a number of reasons, one of these was apparently that he thought that this kind of behavior is acceptable, as BSD license allows it.

    So, why doesn't he change openBSD's license to something that he actually likes?

    RMS and TdR have something in common...
    • by Novus (182265)

      So, why doesn't he change openBSD's license to something that he actually likes?
      Because a lot of the other copyright holders would object?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mrvan (973822)
      There's a legal side to this and a 'ethical or friendly' side.

      Legally, it is quite obvious that you are *allowed* to relicense the code. AFAIK, the purpose of the BSD is to *allow* people to use and distribute the code in (almost) any way they want.

      The issue here, as stated specifically by TdR, is an one of ethics. He sees "the GPL people" as friends and fellow free software fighters, and would like them to give code back if they improve on it. GPL licensed code is not useful for "BSD people" since the lice
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by muuh-gnu (894733)
        >It's a bit like a good street artist contributing something to society to listen to and
        >enjoy, with a friendly request to donate something if they like it.

        No, its actually like a mad street artist demanding only his "friends" to pay (and getting mad if they dont), and letting all other pedestrians listen for free and bootleg and distribute his music.
        • Perhaps, but it's more similar to the trust that we show each other every day. If you ask for me for help, I'll probably offer help. If you take my advice and don't even say thanks, I'll think that rude but I'll continue to offer to help people because sometimes people will appreciate the assistance and help me in future or even just say thanks. Even if I believe in the idea of helping people, there's nothing wrong with me getting angry if someone abuses that generosity, and yes, I am partially to blame for
    • It's not true: he can modify and distribute under BSD the original code that was released under BSD, he can't distribute as BSD whatever was added and licensed under GPL. So none is stealing his work, they are just licensing their intellectual work as they feel it's better.

      They can only do that if they are the copyright holders for the entire work.

      If the work is licensed under the BDSL then he CAN NOT remove that fact by *relicensing* it under the GPL. In combining the GPL code with the BSDL code he has cre
  • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Saturday September 01, 2007 @08:49AM (#20432951) Homepage
    The intent of the GPL is to be a one-way trip. The idea is to create a large pool of identically-licensed code so that projects msy mix and match, borrow and steal from each other.
  • Can't we (Score:2, Insightful)

    by charleylc (928180)
    all just get along? Seriously, I find any impropriety or the suggestion of in regards to licensing issues to be counter productive to the linux cause. I also find any infighting less than professional. Linux has long moved from the hobbyist arena to prime time. Although this "news" is hardly front page material, it does tend to reflect negatively on a product that already has it's work cut out it for general acceptance as a legitimate product. Hopefully it won't become fodder for power struggles and holy w
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by byolinux (535260) *
      What is 'the Linux cause' out of interest?
    • Re:Can't we (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @09:46AM (#20433251) Journal

      The problem is that certain Linux developers don't want to 'just get along.' Driver support is an important issue for all Free operating systems. Projects like DRI have been really great for this. DRI drivers are licensed under the MIT license (as is the rest of X), which is about as permissive as you can get without going public domain; it's even more permissive than the BSDL. This has allowed the DRI drivers to be used on FreeBSD, and even on some more obscure and less UNIX-like operating systems (I believe Haiku has used some of their code, for example).

      Many people within the Linux community seem to view hardware support as something that gives them a competitive advantage over other operating systems, a viewpoint, perhaps, that they learned from Microsoft. Because Linux has the most restrictive license of any non-proprietary kernel, they make it hard for others to use their work, but continue to benefit from the work of others. Porting a driver from OpenBSD (for example) to Linux requires changing the interface. The converse requires a complete reimplementation.

      When Linux developers go to the trouble of reverse engineering a piece of hardware, no one is arguing that they shouldn't be allowed to pick their own license. The problem comes when an OpenBSD developer goes to this trouble, and the Linux team then decides that any changes they make to the driver will be licensed in such a way that they can't be ported upstream.

      In much of the community, it is generally considered bad form to add more restrictions to someone else's work. I tend to prefer the 3-clause BSDL for my own work, but some code I am working on now is based on some work that was originally released under the MITL. If I slap a BSDL at the top, then no improvements I make can be used by the original project, or by anyone else basing their work off the same source. If I stripped the MITL and replaced it with the BSDL then, as Eben Moglen points out, this would be illegal. This is the equivalent of what a few people in the Linux community wanted to do. I could place the BSDL above the MITL, covering my changes and the complete work, but not any of the original code. This would be legal, but it would be incredibly impolite. The F/OSS community is a community, and if it wants to survive then a culture of respect for the opinions and work of others is important.

  • "some circles"? (Score:2, Informative)

    by SuperBanana (662181)

    Try, "publicly, he's an asshole and routinely uses ad hominem."

    From discussion of the very issue [undeadly.org], Slightly more annoyed [undeadly.org], Pièce de résistance, FLAME ON! [undeadly.org]

    Pretty funny to then read, further down in the thread:

    Theo didn't make the initial post about the BSD violation. Theo could have chosen to respond quite publicly, but instead he chose to respond on the OpenBSD mailing list. He did not go nuclear. He is not openly attacking anyone. He isn't even making a big fuss out of this, users on both si

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The man doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut or how to be civil. It looks like (thankfully) people in the OpenBSD project are telling him to shut the fuck up and let them handle things:

      I stopped making public statements in the recent controversy because
      Eben Moglen started working behind the scenes to 'improve' what Linux
      people are doing wrong with licensing, and he asked me to give him
      pause, so his team could work.

      I'm surprised noone corrected you so far, given that Eben Moglen was the subjected of several /. stories already. Eben Moglen [wikipedia.org] is the FSF's lawyer. He's not associated with OpenBSD.

      Or rather, he was the FSF's lawyer until the release of the GPLv3, which he co-wrote. Now he's the head of the Software Freedom Law Center, but he's still closely associated with the FSF and the GPL.

  • /me wonders how the BSD licence not allowing itself to be removed would work with a GPLv3 project trying to use BSD code (since FSF thinks this is OK). One of the terms of GPLv3 is that additional permissions can be removed...
    • by Kjella (173770)
      Better read that section again, because it's referring to its own code. If you release code as GPL3 with additional permissions, it includes an offer to "relicense" itself without those permissions. It will have no effect on any other code in the project.
      • Better read that section again, because it's referring to its own code. If you release code as GPL3 with additional permissions, it includes an offer to "relicense" itself without those permissions. It will have no effect on any other code in the project.

        GPLv3 demands that the "corresponding source" (basically, source code of all dependencies) be made available under GPLv3. How would doing this not turn those dependencies into the "covered works" that section 7 talks about?

  • It may seem that the licenses let one _distribute_ it under either
    license, but this interpretation of the license is false...


    In http://lkml.org/lkml/2007/8/29/183 [lkml.org], Alan Cox managed to summarize
    what Jiri Slaby and Luis Rodriguez were trying to do by proposing a
    modification of a Dual Licenced file without the consent of all the
    authors. Alan asks "So whats the problem ?". Well, Alan, I must
    caution you -- your post is advising people to break the law.


    Funny, but I would have thought that 'Alternatively, this s
  • FTFA:

    ``It may seem that the licenses let one _distribute_ it under either
    license, but this interpretation of the license is false ...
    a dual licensed file always remains dual
    licensed, every time it is distributed.''

    So when the notice says, as in this case,

    * Alternatively, this software may be distributed under the terms of the
    * GNU General Public License ("GPL") version 2 as published by the Free
    * Software Foundation.

    what that means is actually

    * Additionally, when distributing this

  • Consider the dual-license code in question:

    BSD or GPL.


    Now consider a proprietary company taking that code, and using it in a closed source product.

    Quite legal, and it would be silly to assume that that code is in any GPL'd. The company chose the 'BSD' part of the 'BSD or GPL' dual license scheme.

    The dual license is spelled out in quite plain English.
  • I think part of the confusion here about dual licensing is that it can mean two different things to people:
    1) What Theo talks about is dual licensing in the sense that some parts of the code is released under one license and another part is released under another license. In that case, you need to conform to both licenses (so the licenses must be compatible)
    2) When it comes to software like Mozilla (and many other), dual licensing means that you can use the software under any of the proposed license. That c
  • 1 reject the code in question
    2 begin rejecting any and all *bsd code as a matter of principal (from this date)
    3 require code be "signed off" by all authors as to any existing impairments (i think this is happening anyway)
    4 Theo and Linus need to meet somewhere to get very very drunk and then hash this out
  • bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by m2943 (1140797) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @12:06PM (#20434115)
    It is illegal to modify a license unless you are the owner/author,
    because it is a legal document.


    It is not "illegal" if the license permits it. The license says:

    Alternatively, this software may be distributed under the terms of the
    GNU General Public License ("GPL") version 2 as published by the Free
    Software Foundation.


    Now, if someone makes the tiniest change to the code and only licenses their change under the GPLv2, then the entirety of the software can only be distributed under the GPLv2, which means that the portions of the BSD license simply are not applicable anymore.

    The usual way of doing this would be not to alter the existing copyright notice, but to add a second copyright comment that says something like: "Portions of this code are copyrighted by John Smith and are licensed under the GPLv2. Please note that as a consequence, the entirety of this file may only be distributed under the terms of the GPLv2."

    The effect is, however, the same: the file can only be distributed under the GPLv2, and the result is perhaps more confusing to users, which is why deleting the now inapplicable part of the original license is probably better.

    The fundamental issue that this kind of dual-licensed BSD/GPLv2 code can be turned into GPLv2 code is unavoidable, however: that's the purpose and intent of dual licensing. Note that the reverse is also possible: someone can make additions to the code and only license those under the BSD license, killing the GPLv2 portion of the license.

    (I won't even comment on Theo's use of terms like "illegal" and "breaking the law" other than to say that it's inflammatory bullshit.)
  • not ironic at all (Score:3, Insightful)

    by m2943 (1140797) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @12:22PM (#20434215)
    GPL fans said the great problem we would face is that companies would
    take our BSD code, modify it, and not give back. Nope -- the great
    problem we face is that people would wrap the GPL around our code, and
    lock us out in the same way that these supposed companies would lock
    us out. Just like the Linux community, we have many companies giving
    us code back, all the time. But once the code is GPL'd, we cannot get
    it back. Ironic.


    I don't see anything "ironic" about it at all. The ability to take BSD code and use it without being forced to give it back is what BSD licenses are all about. If GPL'ed projects find it preferable to fork, lock out, and not give back, that's no worse than if commercial companies do it--the reasons of a GPL project to do this are just as valid as those of the many commercial companies who do this.

    Apparently, Theo wants to have his cake and eat it, too: on the one hand, he considers "locking out" a bad thing, on the other hand, he refuses to adopt licenses that prevent others from locking people out. He is merely hoping that "locking out" doesn't happen. Well, looks like he is wrong.

    As for Theo's implication that open source developers have special obligations to be nice to each other and cooperate, all I can say is that he should think about starting with that at home. The endless criticisms and allegations of virality by members of the BSD community of the GPL license, as well as his own strong language and flames hardly motivate GPL developers to go beyond the minimally legally necessary requirements when dealing with BSD or BSD code. If Theo wants GPL developers to take into account his wishes, rather than just BSD's legal requirements, he needs to become a whole lot nicer first (or, better yet, just step down and let someone else take over).
  • by coaxial (28297) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @04:38PM (#20435585) Homepage
    Don't dual license code. Especially when you have to deal with not one, but two, bullheaded people.
  • I think I grok this (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rumble (6258) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @04:46PM (#20435637)
    Once you have the dual-licensed code, you can do with it what you want, so long as you respect ONE of the TWO licenses. However any derivative of this work must also have BOTH licenses included. The linux people are way off on this. Dual licensing does not mean pick one license and go with it, it means proceed with both licenses, obey one. The onus is on you to prove that you have the right to remove one of those licenses without proper permission. Why even have dual licensing if this is the case?

    Secondly, the concept of community and sharing. Since both gpl and bsd have similar ideals (open the source), a certain amount of camaraderie and back scratching is nice. Each camp has similar goals. What pisses off the openbsd people in this case is that the gpl people acted in bad faith and removed a license illegally. Theo is 100% right about this.

    If you want your work to be GPL only, separate it out and place under GPL only, and leave the dual licensed code alone, which would be legal. But as Theo says, this will reflect badly on the spirit of cooperation between the two license camps, and probably mean less inclination to support dual licenses in the future.

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