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Theo de Raadt Responds to Linux Licensing Issues

CowboyNeal posted about 7 years ago | from the getting-things-straight dept.

Operating Systems 455

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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Yawn, more deluded crap from de Twat (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20432855)

All bow to the almighty Theo, for it has spoken, and his two users continue to rim his asshole.

Compiz/Beryl (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#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 (4, Insightful)

audi100quattro (869429) | about 7 years ago | (#20433229)

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?

Re:Compiz/Beryl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433447)

You, my friend is a hypocrite. From the perspective of a BSD coder, the GPL is NO DIFFERENT than a proprietary license that locks the code away. That's okay but don't turn around and say you're giving the code to the world EXCEPT to the ones that made it possible (or easier).

At any rate, the argument is over removing an authors original license. The problems with which direction code goes is secondary.

Re:Compiz/Beryl (2, Insightful)

51mon (566265) | about 7 years ago | (#20433601)

The point of the GPL is it allows GPL code to be mixed in.

Once that happens the code can't be distributed under the BSD license anymore.

Hypocrisy doesn't enter into it, it is likely that dual licensed code will end up under the GPL only when used in the Linux kernel. This doesn't necessarily prevent authors contributing their changes back to BSD, but it may require them to remove any GPL only code that is in the mix.

Since the code clearly can't be used under the BSD license if GPL code is subsequently included, and the original licensing made clear the authors intended this use of the code.

Theo seems to be objecting to the authors choice of a dual license, he is welcome to his opinion, but it is down to the authors to select the license or licenses they are happy with.

There may be a technical legal issue concerning changing the attached license text, but if that isn't allowed, then the law is an ass in this situation, since the original BSD license text would be meaningless.

Theo 'difficult'?? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20432877)

Theo 'difficult'?? You insult by underestimation!

Just doesn't make sense (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#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:Just doesn't make sense (3, Insightful)

pbf (98406) | about 7 years ago | (#20433003)

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 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.

Re:Just doesn't make sense (5, Insightful)

DaleGlass (1068434) | about 7 years ago | (#20433155)

*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*

stop making sense (1)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | about 7 years ago | (#20433213)

No, it simply implies that the BSD license is less restrictive (more "free") than the GPL.

Re:Just doesn't make sense (5, Informative)

roman_mir (125474) | about 7 years ago | (#20433289)

*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:Just doesn't make sense (3, Insightful)

naapo (982524) | about 7 years ago | (#20433381)

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 only to the extent in which you use the GPL-licensed parts and BSD-licensed parts. If I understood correctly, that seems to be the problem here. The BSD people, quite understandably, do not like this licensing quagmire, because it would prevent the inclusion of the combined work into a BSD tree (the newly written files and functions under GPL could not be placed into a *BSD project).

Re:Just doesn't make sense (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 7 years ago | (#20433409)

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.

Re:Just doesn't make sense (1)

naapo (982524) | about 7 years ago | (#20433475)

I am sorry I understood you wrong. However, it seems we do agree about what I wrote about the legality of adding code with GPL license to a work licensed under BSD. The reason I thought you were discussing about newly added code was because you referred to modified files in the sentence just before the one I quoted:

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.
Granted, you can indeed modify code (bugfixes, minor new extensions) without adding anything substantial, but I was thinking about larger modifications and even new source files. It all depends what the "modified file" actually means.

Re:Just doesn't make sense (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 7 years ago | (#20433537)

You are correct, I should have made it clearer.

The BSD license cannot be removed from the original code only.

Any new code can have its own license.

Re:Just doesn't make sense (1)

JoelKatz (46478) | about 7 years ago | (#20433397)

You are correct that you cannot remove the BSD license from the file. However, if you modify the file and do not place your modifications under the BSD license (which the license does not require), the BSD license no longer applies to the contents of the file, just to the file's original contents.

It is most definitely possible to add a new license to a BSD-licensed file if the modified contents of that file are offered under a different license than the BSD license. This has no effect on the BSD license that you still receive to the original contents.

The BSD license can only apply to code when the code's author chooses to place that code under the BSD license. Since the license does not require modified works to be placed under the BSD license, you can place the modified work under any license you like. (However, you still must comply with the BSD license's terms when you distribute it.)

This may seem a bit odd, but it's the way things work in the United States. When you distribute a derivative work, you need both the right to distribute the original work and the right to distribute the derivation, but you can acquire them independently under different licenses.

For example, file A is available under the BSD license. I modify it to create file B that still contains substantial portions of file A. To distribute B, you need two sets of rights, one to the components of A still in B and one to the original elements only in B. The BSD license give you the first part, whatever license I place on B gives you the second part. I cannot remove the BSD license to A from B though, because I still need it to distribute B, since B contains substantial elements from A.

Re:Just doesn't make sense (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 7 years ago | (#20433429)

You are correct that you cannot remove the BSD license from the file. However, if you modify the file and do not place your modifications under the BSD license (which the license does not require), the BSD license no longer applies to the contents of the file, just to the file's original contents.
- again, there is nothing in my original comment that covers the situation when new code is added to the original BSD file. I was not talking about that situation.

Yes, the new additions to the original file can be licensed in the same file under a different license by the person who adds the new code. But I was not covering this in my comment, only talking about the original code on purpose.

Re:Just doesn't make sense (3, Interesting)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 7 years ago | (#20433523)

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:Just doesn't make sense (2, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about 7 years ago | (#20433585)

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:Just doesn't make sense (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 7 years ago | (#20433323)

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... (2, Informative)

Junta (36770) | about 7 years ago | (#20433407)

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 something, but you have to recognize that each license explicitly grants rights that the other may preclude (i.e. BSD explicitly grants the right to rip code and use as you see fit, without source, which the GPL explicitly forbids). If a project choses to use the code under one license or the other, you simply shouldn't take offense. If you didn't want the code to be distributed under GPL, you shouldn't say it's ok in the first place. If it is more of a 'you must follow the rules of both', it kinda blows up and can't be used in either world. BSD as a whole is setup such that a third party should be able to use it with impunity, and code which may have the GPL apply precludes that. The same people bitching about BSD license being stripped would be happy to see the code redistributed as a binary.

Re:However... (2, Insightful)

brass1 (30288) | about 7 years ago | (#20433567)

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:Just doesn't make sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433179)

"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."

So? The goal of the BSD license is about contributing back now is it? Tell that to Apple.

"In essence you are removing freedom on code you did not create. This is what is ironic."

No. What IS ironic: Theo is OK with some corporation "not playing the community game" but denies this right to GPL people on DUAL LICENSED code.

Seriously, sometimes I think I fell into a parallel universe.

Re:Just doesn't make sense (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 7 years ago | (#20433317)

So? The goal of the BSD license is about contributing back now is it? Tell that to Apple. - obviously the goal of a BSD license is not about contributing back.

No. What IS ironic: Theo is OK with some corporation "not playing the community game" but denies this right to GPL people on DUAL LICENSED code. - who dual licensed that code? How many copyright holders have contributed to that code? When the contributors added their code they were adding to a BSD project, not a GPL project. If someone takes a file and removes a license from it that was assigned to it by the original copyright holders, then this someone is committing an illegal act.

Re:Just doesn't make sense (1)

allthingscode (642676) | about 7 years ago | (#20433449)

This whole topic WAS about people removing licenses. But, by the end of Theo's letter, I got the distinct impression that he was ranting against the GPL.

Re:Just doesn't make sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433193)

by removing the BSD licence you don't contribute back to the BSD project that created the code you took

The BSD license does not require you to contribute back to the BSD project that created the code you took. In this way it differs significantly from the GPL.

In other words you are doing just what you claim companies would be doing

Yes, companies can do this if they use a BSD-licensed project.

because as soon as you put that under the GPL, the BSD project cannot use it anymore.

Right, just like if I took the BSD code, modified it, compiled it, and distributed the binary. Like companies do every day with BSD code.

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.

Actually, it sounds just like the BSD community game. But the copyright holder of the code also chose to license the code alternatively under the GPL. So you and I are free to take the code and follow the GPL license instead of the BSD license if we so choose. The copyright holder granted that permission, explicitly.

Your code maybe available for Linux, but it is not available anymore for OpenBSD or other non-GPL project

The code is still available, you just cannot take the new alterations by the copyright holder who chose to license her or his changes with the GPL license and misuse them with a BSD license (the one that lets you hide the code in a binary) unless you get further permission.

In essence you are removing freedom on code you did not create. This is what is ironic.

Nope. The original code still exists under the original dual license. As explained above, the alterations (or additions) by a new copyright holder are what are being solely licensed under the GPL. And the GPL is real(tm) freedom. At least, it keeps the source in open sight and not hidden like certain large companies that violate anti-trust prefer.

This is what is ironic.

There is no irony here. The licensing is being followed to a "T". Why do you want to restrict how a copyright holder can dual license their code? Because that is what you and Theo are arguing for when you say the copyright holder cannot offer an alternative license on their code and another person cannot come along and use that code under the alternative license.

different is as different does (4, Insightful)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | about 7 years ago | (#20433267)

The difference is that commercial entities which modify BSD code, compile it, and distribute binary-only distributions are not pretending to own the share and share alike happy friendly community open source high ground. The Linux community does try to own this high ground, really to the point where BSD gets no credit for having the less restrictive (more "open" and more "free") license. What Theo is saying is that if the Linux community wants to maintain its hold on this high ground, they should play fair with code they get from BSD, and share back with that project. Good in the world would be reduced if this turned into a war. Imagine BSD projects getting relicensed as a lever against Linux, say some sort of clause which prohibits dual licensing, and requires non-commercial entities to share code back to BSD. It could get uglier than that, but it probably won't, since the BSD camp has a long history of being the most open and free of free open source licenses, it's unlikely they would start using their license as a weapon at this point.

Re:Just doesn't make sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433207)

In other words you are doing just what you claim companies would be doing

Yes, but Theo doesn't have a problem when people do that with proprietary code (that's why he chooses the BSD license over the GPL), so how can he possibly object when people do that with GPLed code?

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.

And doing it with proprietary code is?

In essence you are removing freedom on code you did not create.

Which is precisely the right that BSD license advocates like Theo think people should have.

This is what is ironic.

It's not ironic.

Re:Just doesn't make sense (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 7 years ago | (#20433339)

GP: 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.

P: And doing it with proprietary code is?


No, the code is still licensed under the BSD license if it is in a proprietary binary, and AFAIK there is no requirement of redistributing any of it. The unlevel playing field here is when somebody relicenses it to require the redistribution of the source. While this is somewhat esoteric to many people, people do choose to allow proprietary use or not. As the article stated he thinks that not contributing back is jerky to do, but not illegal. Not illegal as long as the license allows it.

Even under the GPL there are no absolute requirements that the source or binary be redistributed. A proprietary binary used only in house is exempted from the redistribution clause.

GP:In essence you are removing freedom on code you did not create.

P: Which is precisely the right that BSD license advocates like Theo think people should have.


No, compiling BSD code into a proprietary binary doesn't remove the code, the proprietary patches just aren't made available to the community. Whereas when the code was inappropriately relicensed, the code is no longer available for distribution under the BSD distribution terms.

As an aside, Darwin is available for free download by anybody, the only thing that Apple has in terms of OSX which isn't available are some of the OSX specific interface tweaks. Since the advent of the intel based mac, I believe that at this point you don't even need to have a mac in order to make use of Darwin at this point. That seems to me to be quite a bit more giving than nothing.

Re:Just doesn't make sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433417)


No, compiling BSD code into a proprietary binary doesn't remove the code, the proprietary patches just aren't made available to the community. Whereas when the code was inappropriately relicensed, the code is no longer available for distribution under the BSD distribution terms.


Bwahahahahaha!

Excuse me, but this must be one of the most out-of-this-world things I have ever read!

Re:Just doesn't make sense (1)

parnold (119081) | about 7 years ago | (#20433219)

So, if you want to ensure that any derivative works remain under the same license, ie. to force them to "contribute back to the BSD project that created the code you took" then you should use a license that requires this. The BSD license does not. Rather, in contrast the GPL requires that derivative works remain under the same license. It is just silly for the BSD folks to complain that the Linux people are abusing the 'sprit' of the BSD license - licenses have no 'spirit' - if you want to license to achieve a certain goal then make that one of the terms of the license.

Re:Just doesn't make sense (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 7 years ago | (#20433477)

Although for legal purposes, a licence should clarify exactly how the authors intend it to work, there will always be a 'spirit'. That is a principle found in law. For example, financial legislation in the UK tends to differ from that of the US in that we rely more on the spirit of the law. It has downsides but there is one clear advantage. Strict rules invite people to search for loopholes. You can be in compliance with the law yet totally defeat the purpose of it, as we saw with GPLv2 and the Tivoisation situation. The FSF were quite rightly annoyed since a quick read of the GNU philosphy would make it clear how the GPL should be interpreted, however a philosophy won't stand up in court.

By attributing a spirit to a law, loopholes are more difficult to exploit if your intended behaviour clearly runs contrary to the aims of the law.

The BSD licence ulitmately relies on a certain amount of trust that people will do the right thing. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Closing all loopholes will create a licence that will hurt user adoption of the product.

Re:Just doesn't make sense (1)

gatzke (2977) | about 7 years ago | (#20433621)


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 freedom" software?

So it sounds like you can easily fork dual license code. Make a modification and release it under one license, or maybe I am wrong...

Re:Just doesn't make sense (3, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | about 7 years ago | (#20433157)

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:Just doesn't make sense (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433359)

The dual licensing says you may alternatively follow the GPL license. It does not say you must follow both licenses simultaneously. Once you are alternatively following the GPL, you need not leave the BSD part in there. Because the GPL license does not require it, the BSD section can be removed. It is very free that way. The original work, of course, remains available under both licenses. Remember, both licenses were an intrinsic part of the original work. But the original work allowed choosing one license (or the other) for subsequent changes. Choosing the GPL license allows removing the BSD license in subsequent works.

Remember that the dual license explicitly says the licenses do not both have to be followed. Only one does. It is trivial to become unbound from the BSD license in this scheme by following the GPL. Of course, if you follow the BSD license instead you can hide the source.

Re:Just doesn't make sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433293)

Nope, it's basic copyright law. You don't have any right to strip a copyright notice nor a licence from source code.

As a user, you can use the file under whichever licence you want, but you cannot modify the text of the licence as you wish. To do that, you first need to reach agreements with *all* the copyright holders.

Re:Just doesn't make sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433517)

The license is the agreement with the copyright holder(s). The license allows choosing one license over the other. One of the licenses you can choose allows removing the dual license provision and any other licenses that were available to choose. In this case, the license agreement says you can choose BSD or GPL. A person chooses GPL. The GPL license the copyright holder(s) allowed the person to choose (under their dual license) allows removing the dual license and BSD license provisions. This is allowed under the license the copyright holder(s) put their code under. So the copyright holders have said they do agree with this modification. In fact, they licensed it.

Not to beat a dead horse, but you can remove a copyright notice if the copyright holder's license grants you that permission (watch out Artistic license!). Just like you can remove a license, or part of a license, if the copyright holder's license says you can. It is basic copyright law that a copyright holder may license their work how they see fit. I am not sure why Theo wants to interfere with that.

Re:Just doesn't make sense (2, Informative)

brass1 (30288) | about 7 years ago | (#20433489)

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.

GPL is about giving back to community (2, Interesting)

naapo (982524) | about 7 years ago | (#20432883)

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 limitations.

Re:GPL is about giving back to community (1)

stevey (64018) | about 7 years ago | (#20432913)

Agreed.

Theo has a nasty habit of being 100% accurate in his statements, but still being a massive troll.

Re:GPL is about giving back to community (4, Insightful)

Zatacka (1136621) | about 7 years ago | (#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...

Re:GPL is about giving back to community (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 7 years ago | (#20433233)

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.

The BSD licence relies more on trust and good intentions than the GPL does. A BSD licence would be the take a penny leave a penny dish on the shop counter. I could drop a penny in there when I have a spare one or I could just empty the dish in to my pocket and not care. The GPL version would require you to repay the penny you took when you next return to the shop, I would not be able to simply take all the pennies.

Personally I think that anyone using code created by others should observe the spirit of the licence, not just the letter of the law - It's common courtesy. If I take GPLed code and make improvements, I'll contribute the code back even if I don't plan on distributing my new version. If I develop anything running on OpenBSD, where practical I'll release it under a BSD licence and likewise with GNU/Linux, I'll dual-licence it under both the BSD and GPL licences.

Re:GPL is about giving back to community (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20432981)

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 of protection. We avoid the GPL because of its viral nature. 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.

I think Theo is wrong to suggest that the GPL'er didn't give anything back. What they gave back was a dangerous, viral piece of code. Not "viral" in the sense of malicious software, but "viral" in the nature of such a tiny fragment of code threatening the licensing freedom of millions of lines of other code.

Re:GPL is about giving back to community (1)

DaleGlass (1068434) | about 7 years ago | (#20433227)

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 GPL is the same thing that annoys Microsoft so much: All that source, available out there, yet out of reach! They would even prefer it to be closed, as that it's available out there for other people to use, but not for you must be quite annoying.

Re:GPL is about giving back to community (1)

naapo (982524) | about 7 years ago | (#20433277)

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.

Indeed; if you don't want to use GPLd code under GPL license, you simply cannot include it in your project. But I fail to see how this is worse than not giving any code back, like Microsoft did when they took the BSD TCP/IP stack and extended on it. As I said, with GPL people "taking" BSD code you can at least see the modified code, and use the resulting code and binary without paying for it.

I agree that the *BSD license gives you more freedom with dealing with the code. But why there needs to be such a fuss when GPL people plan to take an advantage on this freedom? I thought that the idea behind the BSD license was specifically to allow more freedom and not to force you give the source back like GPL forces you to. I agree that it's not very nice that the Linux developers are planning not to give code back to the *BSD trees, but I also believe it is their right.

Re:GPL is about giving back to community (1)

fsmunoz (267297) | about 7 years ago | (#20433311)

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 - that, say, perl (dual licensed under AL and GPL) should be removed from OpenBSD and put on the ports.

Re:GPL is about giving back to community (1)

fsmunoz (267297) | about 7 years ago | (#20433433)

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 comment.

Re:GPL is about giving back to community (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | about 7 years ago | (#20433483)

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.

GPL is about requiring derived code to be shared (2, Informative)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | about 7 years ago | (#20433325)

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.

Dual licensing interpretations (4, Informative)

Novus (182265) | about 7 years ago | (#20432891)

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:Dual licensing interpretations (2, Interesting)

7-Vodka (195504) | about 7 years ago | (#20432973)

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 want GPL to be applicable to all derrivatives, license under GPL only. If you license under both and specifically state 'use either' then derrivatives can be either or both.

Re:Dual licensing interpretations (4, Insightful)

stony3k (709718) | about 7 years ago | (#20432985)

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:Dual licensing interpretations (3, Insightful)

schon (31600) | about 7 years ago | (#20433225)

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.

Re:Dual licensing interpretations (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 7 years ago | (#20433261)

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.

Re:Dual licensing interpretations (5, Insightful)

DaleGlass (1068434) | about 7 years ago | (#20433419)

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.

Re:Dual licensing interpretations (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 7 years ago | (#20433505)

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.

Re:Dual licensing interpretations (1)

naapo (982524) | about 7 years ago | (#20433659)

For example, I could invite you around my house and say "If you're hungry, grab something from the fridge".
All your friends would probably be very polite and ethical about it, but if you put up a note at the local mall billboard saying that your fridge is open for anyone interested, there would bound to be someone willing to empty it. Similarly, if you'd offer your BSD code for your friends, there wouldn't be any problems. But what would happen if you offered the world your code under the BSD license? There's always someone willing to try to take advantage on your generous offer.

I bet RMS foresaw this one. He was determined enough to invent something to keep the code pirates at their bay.

Re:Dual licensing interpretations (1)

ByteSlicer (735276) | about 7 years ago | (#20433279)

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:Dual licensing interpretations (1)

josephdrivein (924831) | about 7 years ago | (#20432995)

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: http://bsd.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/04/07/16 18239 [slashdot.org]

In short: the linux developers contacted the openBSD developer and offered to relicense some part of the code as BSD-GPL, the bsd developer complained that they had no tact because this matter had to be discussed privately and that they were not helping the open-source community. de Raadt replied to the thread... you can imagine how this ended up.

This explains why some people considered the patch news. I don't.

The discussion about dual licensing is surely more interesting.

Re:Dual licensing interpretations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433017)

Indeed, you HAVE to pick one or the other, because the terms of the licenses are incompatible. Dual licensing means distributing TWO copies of the code, one with one license and one with the other, that just happen to be the same code. You can't have GPL and BSD licensing simultaneously. Theo is smart enough to understand this but he blinds himself like King Lear with his hatred for the GPL.

What's more (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433059)

and Theo won't like this... is that if the dual license applies as he says then wouldn't all downstream recipients be subject to the GPL?

That makes the BSD license redundant and I'm sure it's not what the original authors or Theo intend.

Theo may be confused by OpenSSL's "dual license" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433137)

OpenSSL is dual licensed in sense that you must obey both of the licenses at the same time. This is very different to traditional (and much more common) LGPL/GPL/MPL/BSD style dual licensing, which allows the recipient to choose which license he wants to use; that is, you are free to omit all but one of the licenses if you like.

Re:Dual licensing interpretations (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 7 years ago | (#20433283)

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 and original copyright notice from the top of the files.
Steps 1-3 benefited the community has a whole. Step four was impolite, since it prevented improvements passing upstream. Step five was illegal. Theo is complaining about both steps four and five, and not making it very clear that they were separate issues. In my mind, step four is worse than five, since it is divisive within the greater community.

Re:Dual licensing interpretations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433411)

I think the thing that I'm not clear on is whether step 4 was about relicensing under ISCL _and_ GPL or ISCL _or_ GPL. The suggestions I've read elsewhere were that it was under ISCL _or_ GPL. If this is the case, it seems that step 5 is legal. If not, I agree with you that step 5 is illegal.

Do you have any references for this to clear up whether it was relicenced under ISCL and GPL or ISCL or GPL?

Re:Dual licensing interpretations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433457)

Replying to my own post... sorry!

From the original LKML post, it looks like the original license statement was as follows.

- * Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
- * modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions
- * are met:
- * 1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
- * notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer,
- * without modification.
- * 2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce at minimum a disclaimer
- * similar to the "NO WARRANTY" disclaimer below ("Disclaimer") and any
- * redistribution must be conditioned upon including a substantially
- * similar Disclaimer requirement for further binary redistribution.
- * 3. Neither the names of the above-listed copyright holders nor the names
- * of any contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived
- * from this software without specific prior written permission.
- *
- * 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.

I'm not a lawyer, but since it says "Alternatively, ...", this suggests that you can either distribute under the 3-clause license or under the GPL. This suggests that step 5 is legal (but not necessarily a good move politically). Am I missing something?

License itself is a part of the software (1)

apankrat (314147) | about 7 years ago | (#20433333)

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 of "freedom", and Theo's response is a very clear indication of this.

Re:Dual licensing interpretations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433423)

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.
notice it says distributed not relicensed, which is what the Linux people are doing.

BSD license (2, Insightful)

josephdrivein (924831) | about 7 years ago | (#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...

Re:BSD license (1)

Novus (182265) | about 7 years ago | (#20432937)

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:BSD license (2, Insightful)

mrvan (973822) | about 7 years ago | (#20432975)

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 licenses are not compatible. The very nature of the BSD license is that they cannot demand the contribution to be given back, but they can ask nicely and hope that friends are friends indeed.

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. And in software terms, this donation should consist of improved code (although I'm sure nobody would mind a monetary contribution :-))

Re:BSD license (0)

josephdrivein (924831) | about 7 years ago | (#20433051)

I see this in this way, I may be wrong.

In the end, I prefer RMS's way: enforce what you think is right (if you have the right to do it): if you want people to give back, ask them to do so. I think this make more sense than complaining that none gives back to convince people to do it, IMHO.

Just because someone uses my code, it doesn't mean we're friends. He just didn't want to rewrite it, and thought my licensing terms were acceptable.

Re:BSD license (3, Insightful)

muuh-gnu (894733) | about 7 years ago | (#20433065)

>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.

Re:BSD license (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 7 years ago | (#20433295)

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 allowing someone to take advantage of me.

Nope. You and Theo disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433075)

"Legally, it is quite obvious that you are *allowed* to relicense the code. "
"The issue here, as stated specifically by TdR, is an one of ethics."

Eh, not exactly. Theo sees both legal and ethical issues:

"For the record -- I was right and the Linux developers cannot change the licenses in any of those ways proposed in those diffs, or that conversation"

And yes, Theo is speaking of dual licensed files. So according to him it is illegal to strip (my words) one license from a dual licensed file.

I'd say before everyone involved agrees on the legality of this it's too early to start discussing ethics.

Licenses don't work that way. (2, Interesting)

argent (18001) | about 7 years ago | (#20433009)

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 created a *dual licensed* work. There's no way around that.

If this was not true then (a) there wouldn't be any BSD, because this is what the USL violated that made them back down in the USL-CSRG case, and (b) Linux might also be in trouble, because in the aftermath of the USL-CSRG case a lot of old AT&T code was released, and that code was a hugely effective part of the smackdown laid on SCO in the SCO-Linux case.

Re:BSD license (1)

ween14 (827520) | about 7 years ago | (#20433047)

"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."

He never said that people were stealing their work. What he said, quite plainly seen in the quote, is that people are using their contributions and not giving anything back to them when they license the changes under the GPL. This is a situation where Theo and friends are making their code available to everyone, and somebody uses their contributions and adds to it, but in doing so makes sure that Theo is not allowed to use their new extensions to the code.

I understand how this might upset him, however I don't see how this is any different then a company taking a portion of BSD licensed code and using it in their product without adding any contributions back to any community besides their own shareholders.

Re:BSD license (1)

josephdrivein (924831) | about 7 years ago | (#20433069)

You're right, there's difference.
Thanks.

Re:BSD license (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 7 years ago | (#20433337)

I understand how this might upset him, however I don't see how this is any different then a company taking a portion of BSD licensed code and using it in their product without adding any contributions back to any community besides their own shareholders.

Technically there is no difference but you would hope that fellow free software writers would try to give something back. OpenSSH is an example of code that is incredibly widely used yet few comercial users contribute code or offer donations. The problem though is that OpenSSH would probably not be as ubiquitous if it had been released under a more restrictive licence. It all comes back to a question. Are you observing the strict letter of the law or are you behaving ethically? They are not always the same thing.

Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20432915)

I was under the impression that if you receive code under multiple F/OSS licenses, you can redistribute under any individual valid license. Isn't this the entire point of licenses like the MPL?

Then there's Theo... he gets mad with hardware companies for not releasing public specs, is fine with companies black-boxing his code but not fine when the code is converted downstream to GPL. Is there a consistency to these arguments I'm missing?

Re:Hmmm (4, Informative)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 7 years ago | (#20433389)

Bullshit. Read this comment regarding vendors using SSH that Theo posted on one of the OpenSSH mailing lists.

These vendors include:

        Sun Apple IBM HP Cisco Netgear RedHat SuSe

        most operating system vendors except Microsoft

        nearly other major network equipment manufacturer

        (but many other vendors too)

These vendors have never given us even a dime. (To put it more
clearly, IBM loaned one developer a machine to make sure that OpenSSH
would run better on it, but they INSISTED on it being a loan instead
of just giving it to the developer).


http://marc.info/?l=openssh-unix-dev&m=11431622462 7520&w=2 [marc.info]

You can't get much direct than that. I suggest you visit the link and read the rest of his mail.

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433545)

How does that outburst relate to the comment you replied to?

GPL intends to be one-way (5, Interesting)

Russ Nelson (33911) | about 7 years ago | (#20432951)

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.

Re:GPL intends to be one-way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433043)

Guess what? BSD-style licenses allow for exactly the same sharing. Except they do it with a faction of the amount of legalese that the GPL requires. Not only that, but code under a BSD-style license isn't restricted to being used in other BSD-style licensed software. With the proper notices, it can even be included in closed-source software released under a commercial license!

So not only do BSD-style licenses allow for that same sort of code reuse, but they take it a step further, opening that use to essentially everybody, not just those people using the same license.

Re:GPL intends to be one-way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433121)

So, what is your take on this? Having used your packet drivers 15 years or more ago, I thank you for advancing the entire industry. Your perspective and experience on licensing and sharing code makes you one who could teach us how to solve this issue.

Can't we (2, Insightful)

charleylc (928180) | about 7 years ago | (#20433019)

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 wars...oops - too late.

Re:Can't we (2, Interesting)

byolinux (535260) | about 7 years ago | (#20433125)

What is 'the Linux cause' out of interest?

Re:Can't we (1)

charleylc (928180) | about 7 years ago | (#20433371)

Please don't misunderstand the "Linux cause" statement. It was only intended to mean the market penetration that it has achieved. Moreover, I personally feel that Linux has come to represent the idea of free and open source software as a whole. It is certainly the most visible and well known, and hence, a de facto leader for the open source genre regardless of the license style.

Re:Can't we (4, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 7 years ago | (#20433251)

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"? (2, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 7 years ago | (#20433135)

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 sides are. Neither did he claim the Linux developers of being thieves.

Alluding that Linux kernel developers "must have failed gradeschool because you can't read" (paraphrasing only slightly) on a public website isn't "publicly attacking someone"?

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.

GPL and FSF bullies (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433273)

Advocates of the GPL are arrogant and sanctimonious.

Theo is just calling shenanigans -- he is calling out unethical behavior.

I have seen this kind of approach openly contemplated on lists - ie, Ha, we`ll add one line of code under GPL and it`s ours, not theirs.

Seriously, I would love to see a lawsuit between FSF and BSD -- it would teach the FSF some damned humility.

Besides, if you look at the internals of a Linux distribution, it`s basically stolen BSD IP with a few GPL lines tacked on.

Theo is an ass... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433361)

But then so are Linus, RMS and ESR. Perhaps an understated obstacle for Open Source is that all our big front men are assholes. Competing proprietary platforms have people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates as figureheads, and those two are quite well-liked.

Hmm... (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | about 7 years ago | (#20433365)

/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...

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433673)

INAL, and YMMV depending on where you are, but here goes. (in this, you is the person doing the dual licensing)

No problem at all. You put a notice at the top of the file saying that the whole file must be distributed under the terms of the GPLv3. You leave the existing BSD license in place (thus keeping with it's terms). Now the whole file can only be distributed under the terms of the GPLv3.

There is a technical difference. Parts of the file are subject to a different license. This means that if someone copies just some bits of the file and you sue them then you'll have to prove that they copied the part which is under your copyright. If they copy the bit from the original file (probably even if slightly edited by you) then they just need to follow the terms of the BSD license. This difference is largely just a technicality since they could achieve the same result more easily and safely by finding the original file and copying that instead.

Reading comprehension not a strong point, eh? (1)

Wdomburg (141264) | about 7 years ago | (#20433443)

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 software may be distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License ("GPL") version 2 as published by the Free Software Foundation.' would mean, well, that alternately the software could be distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License ("GPL") version 2 as published by the Free Software Foundation.

If he had made the argument that some of the files (i.e. the headers) lacked that notice and thus couldn't be distributed under the GPL he would have been a point. If he said that even though it was allowed it was rude he might have had a point. Instead he's just being obtuse.

Confused (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | about 7 years ago | (#20433525)

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 software, you must comply with the terms of the
  * GNU General Public License ("GPL") version 2 as published by the Free
  * Software Foundation.


That makes no sense to me. If it says alternatively, there should be a choice.

Now, in the part I deleted from Theo's quote, he actually says: ``it is
still illegal to break up, cut up, or modify someone else's legal
document, and, it cannot be replaced by another license because it may
not be removed.''

So it seems he's talking about modifiying the copyright notice that the authors attached. Now, there, he may be right. It makes sense to me that you don't go modifying someone else's copyright notice, especially if the notice explicitly states that it must be preserved (as the BSD license does).

Now, before I and everyone else gets lost in speculation, can we please get someone who is actually a lawyer to comemnt on this?

It's all in a name... (0, Flamebait)

BronsCon (927697) | about 7 years ago | (#20433559)

Say it with me: Theo de Raadt...

Theo, the rat.

Legality, not ethics (1)

jgarzik (11218) | about 7 years ago | (#20433563)

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.

Thoughtful and well penned?? (1)

drabgah (1150633) | about 7 years ago | (#20433579)

Theo de Raadt wrote: "Well, the lesson they have really taught us is that they consider the GPL their best tool to take from us!" This kind of statement doesn't seem like its going to change Theo's "difficult" reputation. The sad (almost tragic) animosities and controversies that swirl around free software licensing require a lot more cooperative spirit than Mr. de Raadt ever seems to manifest. Freedom isn't an easy word to define, nor is fostering freedom easy to practice in a world where control and coercion are the norm. I sympathize with those who find the BSD license "more free" -- but as a user, I find the GPL does a better job protecting MY freedom. I do agree with Mr. de Raadt's statement that dual-licensing should be maintained on code blocks that are substantially collaborative between the communities, because this benefits everyone. I think it's more important to make sure to NOT lock BSD out of improvements to their drivers than it is to keep the code from being repurposed by proprietary vendors out.

AND vs OR? (1)

studog-slashdot (771604) | about 7 years ago | (#20433587)

It seems to me that the unspoken and perhaps unrecognised idea at the heart of this dual-licensing issue is whether "dual-licensing" means the code is licensed under BDSL AND GPL (seemingly Theo's position) or means the code is licensed under BSDL OR GPL (seemingly Alan's position).

Given that the wording is "alternatively", which isn't explicit but does seem to imply, it would seem that in this case dual-licensed means OR. OR means recipient chooses, and if the GPL is chosen one of the things that is permissible is to remove the BSDL.

...Stu

explained (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20433687)

The BSD sais:
-------
You can limit distribution of this sw under any new restrictions you want.
The above may not be removed
-------

The GPL sais:
------
You can distribute this sw under terms of GPL only.
The above may not be removed
-------

So, taking a BSD thing and distributing it under GPL is permitted by BSD.
But how to avoid user confusion. The long story would be

GPLd BSD sw
---------
You can distribute this sw however you want.
The above may not be removed.
You can only distribute this sw under GPL.
The above may not be removed.
--------

So, basically the BSD sais that unless otherwise specified, this software can
be distributed anyway you want. If otherwise specified, the clause about
the default distribution policy *HAS* to be removed.

The legal status of the piece of code HAS to be UPDATED upon further restrictions.

What cannot be removed is the Copyrights of the Authors.

I am a lawyer. Posting as AC for obvious reasons.
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