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Software Freedom Law Center vs Theo de Raadt

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the steady-now-steady dept.

Programming 464

An anonymous reader writes "In a recent public posting to the Linux Kernel mailing list the founder of the Software Freedom Law Center, Eben Moglen, lashed back at OpenBSD creator Theo de Raadt without actually mentioning his name. 'What has happened is that people who do not have full possession of the facts and have no legal expertise — people whom from the very beginning we have been trying to help — have made irresponsible charges and threatened lawsuits, thus slowing down our efforts to help them.' Moglen pointed out that they have and continue to help all open source projects, including OpenBSD, but the process takes time. 'The required work has been made more arduous because some people have chosen not to cooperate in good faith. But we will complete the work as soon as we can, and we will follow the community's practice of complete publication, so everyone can see all the evidence.'"

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Aaron Schweinsberg (-1, Offtopic)

PsychosisBoy (1157613) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628311)

Aaron Schweinsberg.

Shades of grey do not a good argument make (5, Insightful)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628323)

I dunno, from the thread that's on the "lashed back" page, linked-to in the summary, it seems to me the SFLC does have some explaining to do...

On 16/09/2007, Marc Espie wrote:
> On Sun, Sep 16, 2007 at 09:17:41AM -0400, Eben Moglen wrote:
> > We will make no more public statements until the work is complete, and
> > we will be neither hurried nor intimidated by people who shout at us
> > instead of helping.
>
> http://www.softwarefreedom.org/news/2007/jul/31/openhal/ [softwarefreedom.org]
>
> As I said in a former email, this has several glaring problems.
>
> As far as I understand, this is a public statement, even if it predates
> the issue at hand.
>
> Please fix it in a timely manner, or take it down for now.

Most noticeably, I fail to see any credits to Reyk Floeter in the
above press release.

Moreover, back when the release was first posted at the above address,
there was no credit even to the OpenBSD project, which I found simply
outrageous! Only after I (and possibly others) have complained to
SFLC did they append the release to give some really vague mention
that OpenHAL is based on OpenBSD's ath(4) HAL.

Eben, is this the work that you are doing in bringing the communities
together, by omitting such vital information as giving credit to the
people and projects who performed most of the work? After all of
these mistakes, after ignoring the ethical side of the relicensing,
after failing to inform when relicensing is even legally an option,
are you seriously even surprised about the negative attention that
SFLC is getting now? Taking a step aside, don't you agree it is
well-deserved?

http://bsd.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/09/13/156258 [slashdot.org]


I'm a software developer, and I don't always write open-source code. I've written plenty of OS code, contributing to PHP, GCJ, SDL etc. and I GPL'd my geolocation website [hostip.info] , but I also write commercial code.

It can be hard to see a perfectly good piece of code, that does exactly what you want, and then have to go and re-implement it yourself, but that's what the GPL requires, and that's what I do. At the moment, I'm drawing over 1000 tiles for a CIV-2 type game, because the 'freeland' tiles are GPL, and having to put the amount of work in to duplicate it that I am doing, I completely understand why.

I think that if anyone relicenced any of my OS code under their own, more restrictive (to pluck an example out of the air: GPL rather than BSD) licence, I would be incensed. It remains to be seen if this has happened within Linux, and if it has, hard questions are going to require very good answers..

Simon

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (4, Insightful)

Burdell (228580) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628367)

If you released something under the BSD license and someone made a closed-source commercial program out of it (as allowed under the BSD license and done many times by many companies), would you be incensed? If so, why would you release something under a license that allows others to do something you don't want?

The current 3 clause BSD license allows someone to release derived works under the GPL (or under closed-source commercial license). If you don't like that, then don't use the 3 clause BSD license. Licenses have specific meaning that should be understood before they are used.

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20628607)

The current 3 clause BSD license allows someone to release derived works under the GPL (or under closed-source commercial license).
Yes, it does. But, and this is the important part that the Linux people keep on conveniently forgetting: IT DOES NOT ALLOW YOU TO REMOVE THE ORIGINAL LICENSE!

You can add the GPL to it if you like. It's allowed. You CANNOT do what the Linux people did and then REMOVE the BSD license from the code. The code remains licensed under the BSD license. Any changes you make can be other another license, but the original BSD license and attribution MUST be kept.

The other important parts that the Linux people keep on trying to cover up is that while parts of the code in question were dual-licensed under the BSD license and the GPL, parts were BSD-ONLY and could not have the BSD license removed from them.

It's also highly ironic that the "Software Freedom Law Center" is fighting to restrict freedom and prevent the BSD projects from using this code.

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628799)

You can add the GPL to it if you like. It's allowed. You CANNOT do what the Linux people did and then REMOVE the BSD license from the code. The code remains licensed under the BSD license. Any changes you make can be other another license, but the original BSD license and attribution MUST be kept.
I agree with both you and Theo, that one can only add the GPL when one adds elements subject to one's own copyrights. The BSD license is a license grant by the original authors to anyone who comes into posession of the code.

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (1)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628885)

The work to the driver in this case didn't qualify as a derived work under copyright laws since the changes were not significant enough to qualify; thus they can't add a GPL to the license.

Also, it's highly questionable if they could add a GPL licensing terms even to a derived work. Certainly without asking the original authors it's highly questionable indeed since it alters their work notwithstanding what the BSD or ISC license terms say.

Remember you're building upon copyright law granting people rights or not. There are lots of different rights under copyright.

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (2, Interesting)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629081)

I don't think there is any question at all. The work as a whole license needs not be the same as the excerpt licnese.

Also I agree that the copyright notices were probably prematurely altered. A safer approach might be to use language like:

"Portions may be copyright (2007) so-and-so.

So-and-so has added this notice here because he/she intends to make changes to the software and release those changes under [insert license here]. Please do not count on this file as being entirely original to the author and, if in doubt, contact the author below for a copy of his source code under the original BSD license."

IANAL, though.

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20629293)

The other important parts that the Linux people keep on trying to cover up is that while parts of the code in question were dual-licensed under the BSD license and the GPL, parts were BSD-ONLY and could not have the BSD license removed from them.

Nobody's trying to cover it up. The reason why everybody is focused on the dual-license issue is because Theo made it the issue with his ill-informed rant. He tried to tell everybody that dual-licensed code must have both licenses preserved, and so everybody is naturally arguing against this idiocy. Not because they want to distract people from the other issue, but because Theo started throwing accusations around without having the slightest clue.

It's also highly ironic that the "Software Freedom Law Center" is fighting to restrict freedom and prevent the BSD projects from using this code.

This is fiction. You are delusional. They have done nothing but say "calm down while we investigate the matter fully".

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628647)

* Copyright (c) ,
* All rights reserved.
*
* 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.
* * Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
* notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
* documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
* * Neither the name of the nor the
* names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products
* derived from this software without specific prior written permission.


So if any of the BSD source code is used, clause 1 requires that both the original copyright and the 3 conditions appear in any copy of the published source code. It's not clear to me that also adding the GPL is compatible with this.

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (4, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629017)

So if any of the BSD source code is used, clause 1 requires that both the original copyright and the 3 conditions appear in any copy of the published source code. It's not clear to me that also adding the GPL is compatible with this.

Section 7 GPLv3 says:

you may (if authorized by the copyright holders of that material) supplement the terms of this License with terms:
[...]
b) Requiring preservation of specified reasonable legal notices or author attributions in that material or in the Appropriate Legal Notices displayed by works containing it

IANAL, and I think you are missing the point (5, Insightful)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628717)

If you released something under the BSD license and someone made a closed-source commercial program out of it (as allowed under the BSD license and done many times by many companies), would you be incensed? If so, why would you release something under a license that allows others to do something you don't want?

The current 3 clause BSD license allows someone to release derived works under the GPL (or under closed-source commercial license). If you don't like that, then don't use the 3 clause BSD license. Licenses have specific meaning that should be understood before they are used.
Ok, I think you are mischaracterizing the dispute. I don't think that anyone disagrees about the BSD license allowing for derivatives under the GPL v2 (see my latest journal entry why I don't think this applies to the GPL v3).

The large issue has to do with whether the BSD license allows for sublicensing (i.e for a licensee to offer a portion of his/her rights to a downstream licensee as a separate license). I personally don't think it does. Instead, I see the BSD license as a direct grant of rights to anyone who gets a copy of the source code.

In the case of a derivative work, nothing here prevents you from enforcing your own copyrights in any way you see fit (as long as you obey the terms of the BSD License). However, you cannot dictate to other people what terms govern the code which was provided to you under a nonexclusive BSD license. This is actually a big difference. Mr Moglen is on record saying that he thinks that the BSD license allows for this sort of sublicensing, and I disagree.

Re:IANAL, and I think you are missing the point (4, Insightful)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629135)

Mr Moglen is on record saying that he thinks that the BSD license allows for this sort of sublicensing, and I disagree.

Why is your legal opinion on the issue even slightly relevant?

Eben Moglen is a lawyer who has been asked for legal advice on this issue by programmers to whom it directly matters and has provided an informed legal opinion. I haven't seen that opinion, so I don't know if you're characterizing it correctly - but that doesn't matter to my comment here. In contrast to Moglen, you are some guy one Slashdot who admits to not being a lawyer and probably isn't even involved in this particular dispute.

Why are you providing legal advice on this issue?

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (1, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628901)

I don't smoke marijuana. However, I don't think people should be thrown in jail for it. Likewise, I don't use closed source software, but I don't think it's morally wrong (as does, RMS, for example).

When someone close sources BSD licensed code, they don't pretend to do it under the guise of protecting your freedom. Placing BSD (MIT, etc) licensed code under the GPL is hypocritical.

It wasn't a derivative work (0)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629061)

In this case the facts are that the software files in question where under a BSD license and the changes were not enough to qualify for a derivative work.

It's perfectly fine if someone publishes their programs, which happen to include BSD licensed code, under whatever license they want. However, they can't change the terms of the BSD licensed code under any circumstances.

You simply have failed to understand the distinction that the BSD code must remain BSD code for all time. No adding license terms. Nada.

Enjoy using and linking with BSD code. But don't enjoy changing it's license. Thank you.

No clause three doesn't allow someone to release derived works under GPL. SORRY! Let take a look at why shall we.

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

Ok, so all the following conditions MUST BE MET. With us so far GPL fans?

Here is the next clause:

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

Ok, the fact that it says MUST RETAIN ... THIS LIST OF CONDITIONS actually means a least two things: one that the list must be kept in the license, and two, that the list of conditions MUST BE RETAINED on the code. That means that they can't be altered in anyway. That also means that attempting to add a GPL or other license isn't permitted.

* Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.

Ok, same as above.

* Neither the name of the nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.

This one is clear.

So, it's copyright law and the wording of the BSD (and ISC) license that is infectious and keeps the code and derived works free from repressive licenses like the GPL.

Also, different countries have different copyright laws. However the Berne Software Convention enables another countries software copyright laws to have effect in your country! In Germany the original authors KEEP their right to derived works! Yikes!

OOPS! That means that you'd need their permission to add to or adjust the license terms!

Actually the best policy is to ask the original authors before starting your changes. In this case asking for permission is really way better and less costly in time, money and legal aggravation than seeking forgiveness.

The message is simple. GPLers, stay away from infecting BSD code! Change the GPL so that it's not so damed self centered and arrogant to want to be the BORG and assimilate everything by the "linking policy".

Re:It wasn't a derivative work (0, Redundant)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629163)

That's an interesting legal opinion.

Are you a lawyer? If not, why are you providing legal advice?

If you have some BSD-licenced code that someone has relicenced under the GPL, feel free to sue them for slander of title or whatever so as to prove that your legal theory is correct. If you aren't a lawyer and haven't written any code then STFU. Seriously.

Re:It wasn't a derivative work (1)

Burdell (228580) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629177)

In this case the facts are that the software files in question where under a BSD license
Wrong. It was dual-licensed code with an "alternatively" stuck between them.

That also means that attempting to add a GPL or other license isn't permitted.
Wrong. The list is not an exhaustive list (it doesn't say you must follow those and only those conditions). Any license that is compatible may be added, as the BSD says nothing about additional restrictions.

Re:It wasn't a derivative work (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20629227)

God damn! You BSD people need to calm the fuck down. You know the reason why I won't release code under either the BSD license or GPL? Because there are zealots like you on both sides. Whether dealing with Theo "de Dumbass" de Raadt or Richard "My Shit or the road" Stallman, it is pointless to argue with you people. It is far simpler to produce an individual license and tell both to fuck off. I like a few aspects of the short and simple BSD license, but I hate the way people act like idiots when they are confronted with it.

I hate GPL even more, because with each iteration Stallman and his cronies have successfully increased the number of limitations on the license. This is pretty stupid when you are trying to express free software that you will make so many god awful restrictions that basically inhibit projects more then it will ever help them.

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (1)

daemonical (1122335) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629141)

>If you released something under the BSD license and someone made a closed-source commercial program out of it No because it's not a relicensing. >The current 3 clause BSD license allows someone to release derived works under the GPL (or under closed-source commercial license) Wrong! You do not relicense the work within a commercial application, you're acting within the boundaries of the BSDL! >allows someone to release derived works under the GPL That's nonsense like the former saying. You can use it freely in GPL work, but you cannot *relicense* the work - that's quiet a big difference. Use it, don't abuse it. Pay the respect to the developer and leave your hands off the license, it doesn't make a difference for your GPL work, but you pay some respect for the freedom granted by the original author. With a big nasty copyleft, Linux would be dead in the water. Do you know the TCP/IP stack? Yes and guess who used it? The Linux TCP/IP stack is a derivative of it. Nice, isn't it?

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (1)

Burdell (228580) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629201)

You chose a poor example. While Windows and other OSes used the BSD IP stack (legally under the BSD license), the Linux stack was written from scratch. At the time, the BSD code was under the old 4 clause BSD license (with the advertising clause), which is not compatible with the GPL.

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (2, Insightful)

Vardamir (266484) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628371)

The problem here is that Theo and others seem to not understand that their license is one that allows relicensing. Ethical issues of relicensing aside, they chose the license, now they have to live with that choice.

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628419)

Indeed. This whole issue makes me think Theo & co. doth protest too much.

That's not to say that I can stomach the other side. Stallman is a fruitcake, the kind of guy that sensible people would be crossing the proverbial street to avoid rather than paling up to.

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (1)

empaler (130732) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629077)

Indeed. This whole issue makes me think Theo & co. doth protest too much.

That's not to say that I can stomach the other side. Stallman is a fruitcake, the kind of guy that sensible people would be crossing the proverbial street to avoid rather than paling up to.
You're sadly right. I think that rms has good points and makes good sense - but honestly, I am appalled by his physical appearance. I know this sounds shallow and crude, but it's no surprise he has trouble selling his message when he presents himself and his message the way he does. I might maybe even admit a little anger at him for it.

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (1)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628507)

As far as I can see, the BSD license doesn't have a clause that says "you may also exchange this license by any other license you wish."

It allows a lot, like including it in a larger package that has its own completely different license; even in packages where the source is never released, so that recepients of the package can't do the same thing you did.

But as far as I can see, if you do give some user the source to your entire program, including the bits that were originally released by others under the BSD, then those bits are still under the BSD to that user. Why wouldn't they? You're not the author, you can't relicense the code. Just that you're allowed to do a lot with it doesn't change the license.

I may well be wrong here, but I don't see why that wouldn't be the case. I'd love it if someone who knows could explain :-)

Nothing is Black and White in the real world. (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629161)

As far as I can see, the BSD license doesn't have a clause that says "you may also exchange this license by any other license you wish."
You are quite correct, it doesn't. However alot of people people who support the GPL seem to think that if it is ok to take BSD licensed code and incorporate it into a commercial closed source product why do they have such a problem with the same code being re-licensed as GPL that explicitly prevents this.

The problem is that we have two groups of people who both want similar aims but have vastly different tactics as to how to get there:

The FSF and Stallman think all code should be open source and code should never be a proprietary trade secret. The end result of this will hopefully then be that open source collaborative development becomes the primary method for producing software. This will hopefully then result in code and software of the highest quality.

The BSD crowd think that by just producing good code that performs well and then letting commercial users take the code and incorporate it into their products a situation will eventually arise where the companies producing close source products eventually become so reliant on the open source (BSD style) programmers that the small amount of closed source development they do on top becomes almost irrelevant. If these companies then make a commercially successful product based on 90% BSD licensed code then the BSD developers would have more bargaining power when it came to encouraging the remaining 10% to be open source as well. There is probably also the fact that as a programmer, it is always nice to see your work getting used extensively and appreciated, even if that appreciation does just come about because you help make someone else richer. I know this would piss alot of people off but some people (myself included) just enjoy writing code and any monetary reward is entirely secondary.

So both licenses could result in toppling the status quo of pure closed source development (and it is the status quo, however much we wished otherwise). The main difference is that one method (GPL) seems to be much more about trying to use the legal system to force this change and one method is more about gentle persuasion over a much longer timescale that may make alot of closed source developers and managers rich in the process.

So far I have mainly just tried to some up the different camps points of view by way of an introduction, if you disagree with by synopsis above, fine but this is the main reason I think the GPL (especially the GPL3) method is not as straight forward as the license itself would lead you to believe:

The Law is NOT on our side.

I am not talking about the actual letter of the law, I am talking about the legal system and who controls it. The fact is that in most of the world, the law sucks. In the US there is the DMCA. In Europe we have recently only just narrowly avoided software patents, and even now it may only be a temporary reprieve. The shitty truth is that big business long ago purchased our politicians and they are responsible for deciding what becomes law.

If anyone wants to post a serious rebuttal to this comment, please do so by explaining to me why any western legal system would back the little guy against a huge corporation, because recent history shows that this does not happen very often. Even the recent reprieve that us in the Linux community got from the stupid SCO lawsuits only came about because another huge corporation got involved.

Lets remember that Novell were that huge corporation. IBM started our defense, but they got bogged down with their initial legal position and it was Novell that ultimately won out. Yet Novell are actually on the FSF shitlist for getting in bed with Microsoft.

The fact is that linux would not be anywhere near where it is today if IBM and Novell had not fought SCO in court. SCO would have gone around demanding licensing fees from any company that adopted Linux, and a lot of companies would have either switched back to Windows or paid up, whichever was cheaper. Certainly all companies with shareholders would have had to due to their legal responsibility to generate the maximum return for those shareholders.

It is for this reason that I think we need to encourage the largest possible commercial use of open source software, even if it is exploitative. Because in the world we currently live in large corporations have far greater access to the people (politicians) who make decisions on our behalf. I also think we should change this as well, but that will be a much longer process since people have been saying it for at least 40 years now.

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (1)

zotz (3951) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629269)

"But as far as I can see, if you do give some user the source to your entire program, including the bits that were originally released by others under the BSD, then those bits are still under the BSD to that user. Why wouldn't they? You're not the author, you can't relicense the code. Just that you're allowed to do a lot with it doesn't change the license."

How is this an issue? Even if that user got that code from someone under the GPL and not the BSD, they also have a / can have a BSD license to it from the original author. Yes? No? (So I can see why the lack of notice could be an issue.)

all the best,

drew

With friends like FSF, who needs Microsoft? (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628887)

The BSD license requires that any re-publishing of the source code include the BSD license and the original copyright notice. Any use of BSD code that fails to do this is in violation of copyright law. In addition, since at least one provision of GPLv3 conflicts with the BSD license, while it's probably true that BSD allows one to add GPLv2 to it, it's probably not true of GPLv3.

Finally, I don't think it's fair to put the ethical issues aside. The FSF's entire basis of being is their ethical argument about code sharing. To take someone else's code and slap a stamp on it that requires that no one share modifications with the original author seems like it's against everything the FSF stands for.

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628479)

I noticed this when the press release was on Slashdot [slashdot.org] . I usually have a lot of respect for Even Moglen, but in this issue he seems intent on pushing the FSF's agenda of GPL-über-alles. He was largely responsible for the GPL, so it's understandable that he might be somewhat prospective of it. Most lawyers understand the concept of conflict of interest.

Free Software grants users a lot of freedom, but the most important one that it retains is that of attribution. Irrespective of the legal niceties, taking credit for someone else's work is unacceptable, and shouldn't be condoned by anyone in the community.

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (4, Insightful)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629189)

Irrespective of the legal niceties, taking credit for someone else's work is unacceptable, and shouldn't be condoned by anyone in the community.

I haven't seen anywhere where Eben Moglen (or anyone else for that matter) has condoned misattribution. In this case what I have seen is 1.) loud people threatening legal action and 2.) Eben Moglen, a lawyer, shutting up in response while continuing to try to resolve any actual problems that are present. That's how things should be.

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20628625)

You might want to know that the speedometer on your geo website is totally wrong. (Suggestion: parallel downloads/uploads. It just can't be that my Gigabit link (german .edu) only has 2100/370 kbps. And yes, other speedotest sites also suffer from their bad counting method.)

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20628855)

to pluck an example out of the air: GPL rather than BSD
Your example is not sufficiently airy.

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629059)

So you think you should be able to use these 'free' tiles to get a leg up on your project saving time and money and give nothing back in return.

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (1)

blazematrix (972829) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629233)

Watch out for the SFLC, they remind me of a free software version of Microshaft!

BM

Re:Shades of grey do not a good argument make (0, Flamebait)

afabbro (33948) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629239)

At the moment, I'm drawing over 1000 tiles for a CIV-2 type game, because the 'freeland' tiles are GPL, and having to put the amount of work in to duplicate it that I am doing, I completely understand why.

What a colossal waste of time.

For an open source project like this, spending dozens (hundreds?) of hours of time redrawing tiles just because the license is different (yet still open) is really pointless pedantry. Wow, you've really struck a blow for your BSD license preference by wasting a ton of your own time. Congratulations.

It is possible, you realize, to release code that has both BSD'd and GPL'd parts...?

(Then again, why anyone would release code under the BSD license mystifies me...yes, I do understand the BSD zealot's arguments and they still seem more fashion than reasoned analysis to me.)

The Software Freedom Law Center confirms it: (-1, Troll)

Glowing Fish (155236) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628331)

BSD is DEAD!

Re:The Software Freedom Law Center confirms it: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20628843)

It just confirms that the BSD license is too weak and that theo de raadt is a loud fool.

No surprises there.

I don't understand BSD (-1, Flamebait)

Vardamir (266484) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628339)

I don't understand why people would want to develop so much software under the BSD license. I'm not a GPL "fanboy" by any means, though I do think it is generally a great license.

Please don't answer "because it gives people more freedom than the GPL does". Is anarchy a great form of government? I don't think many reasonable people will agree with you. At some point, you have to restrict some freedoms in order to guarantee others. Would it really hurt so much if we could all be a little more sensible about which licenses we choose? Do people stick to the BSD license because it makes them feel unique? I'm not trolling here; I'd really just like to see a convincing argument on why the BSD is good.

I'm sure there are some very few instances where using the BSD style license makes sense. But for everything else, there are many other open source licenses that are probably better.

Re:I don't understand BSD (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20628379)

If you're a university, teaching computer science and developing software, you may well want to return value to the taxpayer; to publish software that can be integrated by commercial corporations (the Oracles and Microsofts of this world) and hobbyists alike. And service-provision corporations like Novell and RedHat.

That's what BSD is for.

Re:I don't understand BSD (0, Flamebait)

Vardamir (266484) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628487)

That is understandable; small scale demos that go along with academic publications might be licensed under the BSD (I think I would still choose LGPL or GPL), but maintaining a huge codebase under the BSD makes less sense to me. When you have a codebase as large as OpenSSH or one of the BSD distributions, it should be evident that the project is worthy of standing on its own. That's great. But, the fact that people are getting angry (like Theo) when the code is taken up and modified betrays the fact that deep down, they want a different license. Maybe not the GPL, but something more restrictive.

If a project was jointly funded by corportations and universities, then perhaps, at first glance, BSD would be a good choice. But you will always run in to these relicensing issues. Everything is trending towards Free Software these days, or at the least, open source software that is restrictive in its relicensing nature. Use BSD if you know what you're doing, but please, consider things first. Same goes for the GPL, when often times LGPL (in my view, but not RMS's most likely, is a better choice).

Re:I don't understand BSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20628709)

Theo isn't pissed because someone modifies the code. He's pissed because they fucking changed the license on it, when they weren't allowed to.

People who license their software under the BSD License HAVE considered things. They simply have different priorities/philosophies than you.

Re:I don't understand BSD (1)

sweet_petunias_full_ (1091547) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628541)

So what prevents these same corporations from integrating GPL code? For example, what prevents Google from using GPL'ed code in their servers? Are you saying they can't keep their proprietary code separate? Prove that BSD is the only tool for that job.

Re:I don't understand BSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20628757)

If you want your customers to use GPL'd code, but you don't want to GPL your own code, then you need to do some 'on-site integration'.

Very often I would like to do some integration in the lab, and supply the result to the customer. But the powers-that-be will not let me.

Forcing me to integrate on the client site tends to make things more expensive and less well tested, so less reliable.

Re:I don't understand BSD (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628573)

Oracle gets PLENTY of commercial value out of GPL licensed software.

This notion that if it's in the L/GPL then "evil greedy corporations" can't exploit it for their own gain is just a myth. The only thing that the L/GPL does is prevent you from treating someone else's code as if you wrote it yourself. That last bit of extra "freedom" that the BSDl is actually counterproductive. It takes something that EVERYONE can jointly exploit and allows it to be easily forked with that fork being obscured.

Forks can be bad enough when everyone can read the code.

What?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20628413)

I'm an anarchist you insensitive clod!

Different goals (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628447)

If you're writing a reference implementation of something, you may very well want your code to be usable commercially. Modern versions of the BSD license (without the advertising shenanigans) cover this case quite well.

Re:I don't understand BSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20628483)

BSDL is meant to spread good code. Code that is known to work, performs well, and contains few bugs. Its meant to increase adoption of standards and improve both commercial and free products. It aims to increase the value for consumers of all types.

Licenses like the GPL have different aims and, often, a political motivation. They redefine freedom to mean what they want it to mean, which is often opposed to its historic meaning. There is definate value in perpetually keeping work open, which makes a license like the LGPL probably better than the GPL if politics wasn't the true aim of supporters.

If you look at the code that is under BSDL-like licenses, you'll find that successful projects have been far more successful than GPL-like projects. They have had a far greater impact on the industry. However, they don't have rabid supporters like GPL groups do (e.g. the shameless group, SVLUG, was at the forefront of pushing Linux).

Re:I don't understand BSD (1)

Vardamir (266484) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628527)

I agree with everything you say. Also, I'd say that the LGPL is my favorite license on the whole, even for non-library projects.

My idea here, and maybe I'm wrong, is that people are publishing way too much code under the BSD.

Re:I don't understand BSD (5, Interesting)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628523)

Almost all of my code which is released under an open source license is done under a BSD license because the only thing I really want out of people using my code is recognition that I contributed in some part to the project.

If it becomes part of an open source project, under a GPL style license. Fine, thats fair, I'd hope they give back to me any fixes or enhancments, but if they don't thats okay because my name should still be in the source. This, in thoery means I'm better known in the development community and more likely to get a job working with people that appreciate my code.

Same goes for close source projects using my code, as long as they leave me credit, then some day in the future perhaps someone will say, 'hey, this guy did some good stuff, maybe we should see about hiring him?'

That is all I want out of the code I release. If I didn't care about that, I'd just call it public domain and forget about it. Occasionally I do release things as public domain when it seems far to trivial to reimplement in some other form.

To me, this is what open source is about, making it so other developers can benifit from the work I've done so maybe they build something better and everyone comes out ahead in the end.

What I don't want is for someone to have to reimplement something I've done just because my license doesn't comply with their license. To me there isn't a point in calling it 'open source' if someone can't use it in their project cause of some other silly licensing constraint or because they are trying to make money. I appreciate the BSD license style myself because I am employed as a commercial software developer. I can't use GPL'd code in any of my commercial products, so I many times have to implement something myself even though a GPL'd implementation exists.

As much as I want the world to all do things for the 'better good' of the world, its just unrealistic at this point in time to think that you're going to get quality software out of an entirely open source project unless it is run by some company or person who lays down some rules. I think too many people think GPL is the way to make all the software in the world free, but in my personal view, the really well done overall peices of software are written by someone motivated by financial concerns. In order to REALLY make money off software, open source just doesn't do it, you can always just get the source and build it yourself completely ignoring the original developers who invested their time to give you the software. On that same note, I don't think I've ever seen a dime from my source directly.

Sometimes I write code and open source it under a BSD license only to go to work the next day and pull that code into a closed source commercial product, so in that respect I suppose you could say it makes me some money, but mostly it just lets me do things in my own personal time that benifit me at work and don't require me to reimplement the whole thing if I want to use it in a personal project or at my next job. The company I work for loves it because they get all sorts of free work out of me on the weekends or after hours, I love it cause I don't have to implement stuff twice.

But ... with all that said, I have no idea why almost anyone else would write open source code that isn't under a more permissive license if they really want to 'help the community', GPL is more like a way to get people to fix your bugs :) There are plenty of big projects that have very permissive licenses that get contributions back from people even though they have no requirement to do so. Apache, zlib, libpng, openssl, all of them get plenty of stuff back, but don't REQUIRE you to make your project opensource if you use them.

Re:I don't understand BSD (1)

Vardamir (266484) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628631)

Thank you for your argument, this is also a fairly good one. The only point I disagree on is that GPL is not more for the community; BSD certainly influences more code adoption, and as you've stated, many patches trickle back down, but that isn't guaranteed. The nature of some projects probably effects the extent of what trickles back down and what doesn't.

If the Linux folks aren't providing fixes to the BSD folks (aka dual licensing), then I suppose that is in bad taste, but at the same time, this is the direct consequence of:
1) BSD choosing the BSD license
2) Linux people choosing (and possibly shooting themselves in the foot) not to dual license that segment of the code.

I would like to add that I use many BSD based projects and wish all BSD developers well =). And I totally agree that credit should be given to authors, it is simply in good taste even if the license doesn't require it.

Re:I don't understand BSD (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628823)

To be fair, the GPL doesn't guarantee patch trickle-down either. Nobody may be inclined to build patches, or they may keep them for private deployments.

Re:I don't understand BSD (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628761)

You may want to take a look at my journal entry about BSD/GPL3 compatibility concerns then. I respect people who want to allow people to use their work under any license.

However, the GPL3 grants them the right to restrict downstream permissions on your code without asserting any copyrights of their own over the affected code. You may want to think about this issue somewhat and talk about it with your lawyer (ideally one outside the FOSS community so you can be sure there is no bias) and consider adding a sublicensing provision or a dual license provision.

IANAL, TINLA, Please speak about these concerns with your attourney if the answers matter.

Re:I don't understand BSD (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629257)

I have no idea why almost anyone else would write open source code that isn't under a more permissive license if they really want to 'help the community',
I think part of the problem is that your definition of 'the community' is different from that of GPL users. To the FSF, the community does not include closed-source implementors. To you, it sounds like software developers in general.

Re:I don't understand BSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20628691)

Do people stick to the BSD license because it makes them feel unique? I'm not trolling here; I'd really just like to see a convincing argument on why the BSD is good.

The BSD license is good compared to the GPL because you aren't required to assign copyright to the FSF (read the GPL preamble).

The BSD license is good in and of itself because it allows the maximum amount of use for a piece of code, while still maintaining the author's name recognition. If I wrote a particularly good complex matrix package, for example, I would BSD license it and release it to the world. That way I get the most name recognition for my work, while still allowing the most use for that piece of code. If it's good enough, in twenty years, it might be the only matrix code anyone uses.

Granted, it's not the greatest example in the world, as much of that code already exists at netlib.org.

Re:I don't understand BSD (2, Informative)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628807)

The BSD license is good compared to the GPL because you aren't required to assign copyright to the FSF (read the GPL preamble).

Reading the preamble is a good idea in your case. GPL doesn't require you to assign copyright to the FSF either. The FSF is mentioned once in the preamble, and that is only to say that they use the GPL for most of their projects internally.

Re:I don't understand BSD (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629273)

Well, I don't know about the preamble (it's been a long time since I last read the GPL), and I agree that the FSF don't require you to assign copyright to them. However, they definitely do recommend that you do, as then they can go after GPL violations involving the code. If you retain copyright, then you'd have to do it yourself, and most people don't have the FSF's resources.

Re:I don't understand BSD (2, Informative)

BootNinja (743040) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628819)

You aren't required to sign your copyright over to the FSF if you use the GPL. The FSF does require you to sign over your copyright to have your code incorporated into any of the GNU tools, but if you are writing for say... the Linux kernel, or your own project, then you retain your copyright on the code you write.

Re:I don't understand BSD (1)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628913)

The BSD license is good compared to the GPL because you aren't required to assign copyright to the FSF (read the GPL preamble).
Having read the GPL preamble (From the preamble to the T&C's (I looked at V2 and V3 as you didn't specify) I fail to see where I am required to assign copyright to the FSF. Could you clarify where you think that statement is, or even better if you can find it, could you post it?

Need to clarify dual-licensing (4, Insightful)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628341)

What we really need is the clarification of the legal consequences of dual-licensing something. If it is indeed legal to strip out one of the licenses of dual-licensed code and continue development under only that license, then all we need to do is state this fact clearly in some place where people usually look when considering licensing issues. This way anyone who releases dual-licensed code will be aware that his code might not keep them both and will be able to decide in advance if that is a good thing.

Re:Need to clarify dual-licensing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20628467)

Well, let's look at the situation from the opposite end of the spectrum. Say I release code under a dual-licensed BSD/GPL set up. Is it legal for someone to distribute binaries under a proprietary license so long as they comply with the terms of the BSD license? Absolutely they can. If they couldn't, then dual licensing would be entirely pointless -- it would be exactly the same as licensing only with the GPL.

Perhaps a better example: could somebody incorporate the code in a BSD-only project? If they couldn't incorporate the code without licensing the entire project under the GPL, then there would be no point in using a dual license.

Re:Need to clarify dual-licensing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20628663)

Indeed. What Theo doesn't seem to realize is that as soon as a user chooses to comply with the GPL license over the BSD license in a dual-licensed software package, the text of the BSD license becomes modifiable under the terms of the GPL. It is "plain text" with no legal significance with respect to the licensor's and licensee's relationship.

This goes both ways, by the way.

Re:Need to clarify dual-licensing (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628679)

* Copyright (c) <year>, <copyright holder>
* All rights reserved.
*
* 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.
* * Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
* notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
* documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
* * Neither the name of the <organization> nor the
* names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products
* derived from this software without specific prior written permission.
*
* THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY <copyright holder> ``AS IS'' AND ANY
* EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED
* WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE
* DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL <copyright holder> BE LIABLE FOR ANY
* DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES
* (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES;
* LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND
* ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT
* (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS
* SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.
Seems pretty clear to me, you can do whatever the hell you want under the BSD license except remove the copyright notice, or fail to produce the copyright notice in binaries. I remeber my original Microsoft Windows 95 used to say "This product includes software developed by the University of California, Berkeley and its contributors." when you clicked the correct button. Linux was the same way, both Linux and Windows used the same BSD code of their networking, to this day if you can do networking from the command line in linux you can network in windows for the most part by changing the dashes to slashes. Maybe Theo is going through menopause or getting tired of the BSD is dead jokes.

Re:Need to clarify dual-licensing (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628777)

Seems pretty clear to me, you can do whatever the hell you want under the BSD license except remove the copyright notice, or fail to produce the copyright notice in binaries.
Of course you can't assert copyright either over the code.

This means you can prepare derivative works under any license, but you can't assert that the new license covers the code you are merely using with permission.

IANAL....

Also, one question: (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628869)

Who is granting the rights? WHo is the recipient of those rights? On what basis can this be superceded other than by adding copyrighted elements of one's own to enforce independantly of those used with the permission of this license?
IANAL....

Re:Need to clarify dual-licensing (1)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628873)

> Seems pretty clear to me, you can do whatever the hell you want under the BSD license

The issue here is not what you can do with BSD licensed code, but what you can do with code licensed under both the BSD and the GPL licenses. Specifically, the question is whether you can accept one license and not the other; which is precisely the decision that precipitated the current debate.

To put it more bluntly, we need clarification on whether dual-licensing has any point in it at all. If it is valid, then all users must accept both licenses at once, which is impossible, since BSD and GPL are incompatible. If it is not valid, and people can just pick either license on a whim, then there is no benefit to dual-licensing; simply releasing the code under the BSD license would have the same effect.

IMO, people should just make up their mind what they want and use the one appropriate license that fits that want. Dual-licensing is something only a wishy-washy, uninformed doormat would do.

Seems rather obvious (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629099)

Specifically, the question is whether you can accept one license and not the other
I think you can as:
a) There'd be no point in dual licensing otherwise
b) That's the plain and most obvious meaning of the word "alternatively" which is the word most often used (and used in this specific case I believe) when offering dual licences.

(I seem to recall that some files in this case may not have been dual licensed, but that is another issue).

Oh (4, Funny)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628361)

> Eben Moglen, lashed back at OpenBSD creator Theo de Raadt without actually mentioning his name.

Whereas an explicit attack would have been way too common to be featured as news :)

Why would anyone listen to Theo? (-1, Flamebait)

Rix (54095) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628381)

He's just a blowhard. Killfile him and be done with it.

Re:Why would anyone listen to Theo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20628741)

Perhaps because he's one of the world's preeminent software developers? Because he's contributed a significant amount to the Unix world? Because he's head of two of the biggest open source or free software projects? Because he's been fighting the good fight for freedom since before it became popular on the Internet to do so? Any one of these reasons are good ones to listen to what de Raadt has to say, I use OpenSSH every single day.

I have the perfect solution (5, Funny)

sweet_petunias_full_ (1091547) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628421)

I would suggest to Theo that if he wants those GPL slackers to give back to the BSD community and not run roughshod over the BSD license that he add a simple provision that forces the miscreants to give back their improvements.

In fact, in the interest of sharing hard work freely with others, I happen to have a draft copy of what such a license would look like right here [gnu.org] .

P.S.

The license shown even encourages non-GPL borrowers to keep their code open, all for the same low price.

Re:I have the perfect solution (1)

KillerCow (213458) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628685)

I would suggest to Theo that if he wants those GPL slackers to give back to the BSD community and not run roughshod over the BSD license that he add a simple provision that forces the miscreants to give back their improvements.

You know, the GPL has no provisions that say that you have to give anything back. It says that you have to give source to those whom you distribute your binaries to, not that you have to give anything back to those whom you got it from. I could d/l you code and change it like crazy, but I don't have to give anything to you unless you get the binary. If I keep it for my own use, then I owe you nothing.

If you want people to have to give back, then you have to use the RPL [wikipedia.org] .

Hot heads (-1, Flamebait)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628439)

Hmm, Theo's Afrikaner hot-headedness should be excused - it is in his genes - he can't help it...

Infighting between the hairy guys & gals (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628445)

will not be allowed or tolerated by the hairy guys & gals community. you prominent figures should have known that.

Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20628609)

They are there to help him weather he wants it or not eh?

THat summary is one of the scariest things I've read lately. THOSE WHO KNOW BETTER WILL MAKE LIFE BETTER FOR YOU. Great. Every day in every way Open Source (Specifically GPLed) looks less and less attractive.

Learn from the diplomats (2, Insightful)

stites (993570) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628637)

"Let me therefore point out one last time that if the threats of litigation and bluster about crime and malpractice--none of which has the slightest basis in fact or law--were withdrawn, we would be able to resume detailed communication with everyone who has a stake in the outcome."

In international diplomacy demands that the other party publicly accept certain negotaiting points as a precondition to private talks usually bar any private talks from taking place. Sure, Theo de Raad may be heavy on the threats and rhetoric but he is not Kim Jong-il.

I suggest that Eben Moglen drop his demands for pre-conditions to meeting with the BSD people. Instead he should offer to meet with all concerned without anybody setting pre-conditions for the meeting.

-----------------
Steve Stites

Do you know WHY he gave that advice? (3, Insightful)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629139)

This isn't international diplomacy and you're the one dragging controvertial figures like Kim Jong-Il into this. I haven't seen Eben (or even Theo) dragging him into the mix.

Eben has a very good reason for advising them against such talks: Theo & co. are tossing around legal threats. It would be malpractice for him to recommend anything that might get his clients in legal trouble. It may not be very polite, but it is the law. It's ironic, because last I knew, the code was remove, and the guy with the dual-license said he was okay with it, though another guy wasn't. Now all we have left is people shooting their mouths off and opining about what should or ought to be the case, even when those hypothetical situations have nothing to do with what actually happened.

If Theo wants to make legal arguments, he can make them in court.
If Theo wants to do diplomacy, he can drop the legal threats.

Frankly, I almost wish Theo'd sue. Then we'd find out whether the non-lawyer or the lawyer was actually right about what the law said. And maybe, just maybe, the one who was wrong about the law would shut the hell up already.

Yeah, I know. It's not like that will ever happen.

Re:Do you know WHY he gave that advice? (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629283)

Frankly, I almost wish Theo'd sue.
It's not really likely to happen since the case would be so prohibitively expensive neither party would actually win. By then end both parties would just run out of money and probably come to an agreement. Or one side would win only to emerge victorious and bankrupt.

See my earlier post regarding how shit all western legal systems are in this regard, they all favor the rich.

Learn from the diplomats - be silent when needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20629279)

One of the things we have learned from the SCO saga is that when you are in a lawsuit shut up. Morgen can hardly be expected to continue to be open with Theo under thread of legal attack, whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation. Do you really think the BSD people want to meet him?

He is forgetting..... (1, Insightful)

budword (680846) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628657)

That for Theo, reality is not a factor. He's wasting his time. This isn't to flame Theo at all, I think OpenBSD is fantastic, and people more skilled than I claim he is a great programmer, but public relations is not in his skill set.

Re:He is forgetting..... (1)

daemonical (1122335) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629215)

>but public relations is not in his skill set. Yes, thou shall not criticize Linux and the GPL, if you aren't part of it. But if you're part of it badmouthing other developers e.g. of FreeBSD (idiots) or Gnome (interface Nazis) is the usual way for the public relations of Linux (your holiness Linus). Hypocrites ... Slashdot too is just interested in posting BSD news, if there is something to badmouth it. It's self-defense against hypocrites! Real freedom != disrespectful behaviour.

Isn't this whole argument pointless/retarded? (0, Flamebait)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628695)

As I understand the facts, please feel free to flame me where wrong:
  1. The author relicensed the code, that in and of itself ends the argument. Its his code, he can do whatever the hell he wants with it. Old versions still have the old license applies to them and always will, so if you have a copy, use it however the old license permits
  2. The BSD license doesn't have any restrictions on relicensing assuming credit is given to the original author(s)
  3. Theo is a hot head, attention seeking flamer. He's a hell of a developer, no argument there, but its clear by the way he treats OpenBSD and friends that he's got some issues. This isn't uncommon with smart people, and certainly not new for him, why act suprised and let him get under everyones skins, due to the first two statements above, I'd say no one did anything wrong and we should all just ignore any of this crap and move on.

With those things in mind, WHY THE HELL IS THIS STILL BEING TALKED ABOUT, ESPECIALLY BY PEOPLE WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO PROMOTE THE OPENSOURCE WORLD?!

I don't care for the GPL, its not my idea of opensource. Is it wrong? Whos to say? I'm wrong more often than not. I get frustrated when I can't use GPL code because it won't work with my commerical projects or my BSD licensed open source projects. Do I flame the author? No. They didn't HAVE to even let me see it. Do I reimplement it? Sadly, most of the time I have to. Hopefully the author has atleast contributed to my code by allowing me to see some of his/her neat tricks or some of the mistakes they made in their implementation, or maybe just how I can do it better for mine. If after going over the code learning all I can about it, do I tell the author if I notice a bug? Assuming I can contact the author in some sane manner, yes (No, signing up for some retarded forum is not an acceptable contact method). I gained some knowledge, in exchange I'll try to give some back. I'd also like to think that most authors of GPL'd code would be willing to relicense small portions of their code for other projects if it would benifit the industry as a whole.

I don't expect them to be okay with someone ripping off a bunch of their code and claiming it as their own, then going off and making a fortune off it, thats not what they want, otherwise they would have used a BSD license :)

Everyone just needs to stop getting all excited when something like this happens. When some one type of OSS code is found in some other OSS licensed project we all need to stop, settle down, work out the details and move on like sensible adults. All these types of arguments do is scare companies who are considering F/OSS code but are afraid of the legal issues. We need to be good sports and work together or large organizations are never going to accept OSS as a viable alternative to commerical/closed source products. If its ever going to be 'the year of the linux desktop', its not going to go hand in hand with the 'the OSS license group is fighting that OSS license group over silly legal issues'.

Re:Isn't this whole argument pointless/retarded? (0, Flamebait)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629121)

Theo is a hot head, attention seeking flamer.

I'd have less of a problem with people continually rubbishing Theo if there wasn't so often continual, simultaneous worship of Stallman on the other hand as well.

I will trust someone who is openly vindictive and who is willing to take responsibility for their own statements a lot more quickly than I will someone like Stallman, whose every utterance is communicated through minions and third parties.

Theo honestly being as much of an asshole as he is is actually probably the single most valuable thing about him, in my mind. Better, far better an open asshole, who you know where you stand with, than someone like Stallman who on the surface continually seeks the moral high ground, while underneath generally having motives that are far less clear. If I have to choose between evil on the surface, and evil underneath, I'll take it on the surface where I can see it.

Both sides are right (4, Interesting)

Anthony Boyd (242971) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628699)

I don't say this to be PC or placate anyone, but both sides appear to be right. Theo's side is correct that attribution was conspicuously absent. Eben's side is correct to admit it, and to fix it. Eben's side is also correct that threatening to litigate against a bunch of lawyers probably has repercussions. I think that's all Eben is saying here -- he is not saying "we won't change it, nyah!" But what he is saying is that since the response to his mistake was threats of lawsuit, his legal team has been forced to engage in S.O.P. for such cases, and withdraw. He feels that is a shame, because he's trying to work for Theo's group. But Theo's group is already casting aspersions on Eben's motives.

If it were me, I would simply do both what Theo's team is asking, and what the lawyers are asking: fix the mistakes until Theo's team is satisfied, and then withdraw. If you're withdrawing because you hate 'em now and want to scream & shout, fine to feel that way, but maybe don't say it. If you're withdrawing under protest because you feel that you should/could have done more good things together, fine to feel that way, but face facts: the relationship is poisoned at this point. Get out before the venom poisons the relationship more. Especially if the group is suspicious of your motives and is tarnishing your reputation by saying nasty stuff about you -- just get the hell away from it, spend your limited resources to help groups who are more gracious and less prone to paranoia.

If you do that, everyone wins. Theo's group gets rid of the suspicious betrayers they no longer want in their midst, and Eben's group gets away from a reputation-damaging public fight and money pit. There may also be karma -- perhaps Theo's group learns that they really needed Eben, and is forced to behave more politely with whoever next helps out. And perhaps Eben learns to be more careful up front, lest all his relationships end badly. Or perhaps, as Dane Cook says, they will "stick with the relationship for a few more years and end things violently."

BSD - dead yet? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20628707)

How sad that the OpenBSD troll community are now reduced to trolling lkml for publicity. Spewing all kinds of nonsense about ethics that can only make sense if they admit to double standards for commercial relicensing and copyleft relicensing. At the center of all the FUD and mudslinging about unrelated issues, there is a minor copyright attribution issue that's being resolved. Can we please stop feeding the trolls.

BSD code can't be relicenced - it can be linked! (5, Informative)

saterdaies (842986) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628711)

The BSD License does NOT allow for relicensing:

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.
        * Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
        * Neither the name of the nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.


If you are using a piece of BSD-licensed code, you must forever obey those three terms. They allow you to LINK code against any code - GPL, proprietary, whatever. BUT, you must always reproduce the copyright notice and the list of conditions. Nothing gives you the right to remove them.

So, you can create a derivative work that uses both GPL and BSD code, but that BSD code hasn't become GPL'd and you must still obey the terms of the BSD license. This is a common misconception because the BSD license's terms are so liberal. So, Linux (and other GPL projects) can appropriate code from the BSD world provided that they obey the three terms listed in the BSD license. GPL projects can add GPL code to BSD code in the same file, but until the BSD code is gone from that file - which would probably happen over years of rewrites - they have to obey those three clauses. No where does the BSD license say "you can disobey these clauses because you've changed the license."

Enforceability of contracts is what makes the GPL work. If the GPL world says it doesn't work when it's someone else's license, their projects are in deep trouble. And to think, this whole mess could be solved by simply removing that stupid relicense crap which has almost no practical implication other than GPL-ego.

Re:BSD code can't be relicenced - it can be linked (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628835)

If you are using a piece of BSD-licensed code, you must forever obey those three terms. They allow you to LINK code against any code - GPL, proprietary, whatever. BUT, you must always reproduce the copyright notice and the list of conditions. Nothing gives you the right to remove them.

Slightly off-topic, but the GPL forbids you from linking BSD-licensed code to GPL-licensed code. Linking BSD-licensed code to LGPL-licensed code is OK, though.

Re:BSD code can't be relicenced - it can be linked (4, Interesting)

Burdell (228580) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628863)

However, that is not the full license text in question. It was a dual-license that also said:

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.


Most people belive that means you can either accept the BSD terms or accept the GPL terms (and from then on follow only the one chosen set of terms). Theo seems to be claiming that you somehow have to follow both sets of terms. I guess it depends on your definition of "alternatively".

Re:BSD code can't be relicenced - it can be linked (3, Informative)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628939)

This depends on which files you are talking about in this case. Actually it seems that the so called "dual licensing" of the driver wasn't legally done for the files that are really in dispute! Since appending the GPL to a BSD licensed file itself was a violation of copyright any such GPL license is in violation and is thus the GPL license terms are null and void from having control of those files.

Who'd want a license anyway that prevented me from simply linking source code or binary code licensed under another license? That would be Totalitarian Control (which is what the GPL attempts).

True-Free Software is BSD or even better, Public Domain.

Re:BSD code can't be relicenced - it can be linked (1)

NoOneInParticular (221808) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628911)

Sooo, applying this theory to the second clause, this would mean that whenever anyone uses a piece of BSD code in a library, the binary library itself would be freely distributable by any user. Furthermore, when the BSD code is statically linked into your own work ... free distribution of the whole executable, or no distribution at all? There doesn't seem to be a middle way. How does Mac OSX cope with this?

Wasn't BSD supposed to be the non-viral open source license? Better stick with the Apache license then.

MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20629037)

Since derivative works cannot change the BSD license, let's begin liberating some binaries. This is our moral duty on behalf of the BSD community.

Boring! (1)

00_NOP (559413) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628747)

As on lkml the discussion here is tedious beyond belief. The whole tone of it reminds me of the letters page "Smash Hits" magazine (a teenage music mag in the UK) in the 1980s - where every letter seemed to be someone screaming at someone else because they dared to criticise their favourite band. Anyone wanting evidence that a lot of computer nerds are poorly adjusted individuals with little social skills need only read the exchanges on lkml.

Programmers != Lawyers (1)

drabgah (1150633) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628781)

I have been following this controversy as it has snowballed over the past several weeks, and one thing is supremely clear: almost nobody understands the legal facts of the situation. In fact, because there are very few court-established precedents involving the overlap of multiple free software licenses, and the dispute involves code written in several different nations, hosted on servers in others, etc, even a lawyer who is knowledgeable about software licensing might say "we won't know the answer to that until it is ruled on by a court of law or new laws are passed by a legislature". The fundamental subject matter under discussion, the Atheros wireless drivers, is composed of chunks of code of which some are under BSD, and some are dual BSD/GPL licensed, from multiple authors, and with numerous small changes and emendations.

The issues and complexities involve do need to be clarified and I think in the long-run this controversy will have a great deal of positive benefit. Unfortunately, in the short-term, the viciously combative and aggressive personality of Theo de Raadt (as well as a few other individuals in both the BSD and Linux camps) is making the process of working out the issues much harder. Basically, Theo assumed bad faith from the outset, pouncing on a mislicensed patch with barely suppressed glee. It's obvious he was spoiling for a fight and has tried to throw as much mud as possible.

It's very bizarre to see someone who advocates the BSD license as the 'most free' try to find grounds for a lawsuit(!) on the basis of a licensing confusion of this nature. Considering that the GPL and BSD licenses are really just a slightly different vision on the best way to achieve a common goal -- freely available open code for all -- its almost tragic to see a community leader try so hard to disrupt and fragment the community. There are LEGITIMATE issues at stake here, and there ARE ethical and legal issues involved in how BSD-developed code is used in the Linux kernel. There probably are 'gpl zealots' who want as much code gpl-ed as possible, and may have been mistaken about what was permissible. Considering the publicness of Linux kernel development, problems are easy to find and fix, and there is no need for wild accusations and politicization of the process.

Both sides have legitimate complaints (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628849)

BTW, I agree with Theo on his interpretation of the BSD License as one which does not allow sublicensing. I think that Mr Moglen and others are factually wrong as to the nature of the license. But IANAL.

However, if Theo threatened to sue Mr Moglen or anyone else over these sorts of things, this is not helpful either. It is exceedingly difficult to sue lawyers for malpractice on the basis of his/her opinions and representation strategy (I suppose if a lawyer, say, goes on vacation instead of representing you at your trial that might be another thing). We should assume that all mistakes are honest until proven otherwise.

Re:Both sides have legitimate complaints (0, Flamebait)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629053)

I think that Mr Moglen and others are factually wrong as to the nature of the license. But IANAL.

Moglen and any of Stallman's other minions will argue that black is white if they think they need to convince people of that in order to further the goal of the GPL eventually being the only FOSS license in existence.

Facts don't matter. Logic doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is the establishment of a monoculture centred around the FSF, that Stallman and those answerable to him are firmly in control of.

Re:Both sides have legitimate complaints (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629223)

BTW, I agree with Theo on his interpretation of the BSD License as one which does not allow sublicensing. I think that Mr Moglen and others are factually wrong as to the nature of the license. But IANAL.

So... we have established that you are not a lawyer. The next question is this: Do you have any BSD code that has been relicensed under the GPL?

If not, then why the hell would anyone care about your non-lawyerly opinion on this legal topic?

The Actual BSD License (5, Insightful)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | more than 7 years ago | (#20628879)

Since previous iterations of this discussion have been dominated by wildly inaccurate characterizations of the BSD license, it seems only proper to actually include it:

http://ftp.bg.openbsd.org/OpenBSD/src/share/misc/license.template [openbsd.org]

/*
* Copyright (c) CCYY YOUR NAME HERE
*
* Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this software for any
* purpose with or without fee is hereby granted, provided that the above
* copyright notice and this permission notice appear in all copies.
*
* THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS" AND THE AUTHOR DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES
* WITH REGARD TO THIS SOFTWARE INCLUDING ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF
* MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHOR BE LIABLE FOR
* ANY SPECIAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OR ANY DAMAGES
* WHATSOEVER RESULTING FROM LOSS OF USE, DATA OR PROFITS, WHETHER IN AN
* ACTION OF CONTRACT, NEGLIGENCE OR OTHER TORTIOUS ACTION, ARISING OUT OF
* OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OR PERFORMANCE OF THIS SOFTWARE.
*/

To break it down even further:

  • You must keep the text of the license intact in any copies you make.
  • So long as you keep the text of the license intact, you may do pretty much anything else you like with it.

Now, obviously, slapping a copy of the GPL in the file is within your rights to “use, copy modify, and distribute” the software. However, it is entirely pointless to do so: the GPL places additional restrictions on what you may or may not do with the code, yet those restrictions are voided by the fact that the BSD license — and, let’s not forget, removing the BSD license is the one thing that the license forbids — grants you those very rights that the GPL takes away. In order for the restrictions of the GPL to be effective, you must remove the BSD license, which you cannot legally do.

Now, can we please stop this nonsense about the BSD license giving you the right to re-license code under the GPL?

Cheers,

b&

Re:The Actual BSD License (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20629109)

Too bad the file in question was dual licensed, BSD and GPL. Theo needs to learn to shut the fuck up.

Re:The Actual BSD License (1)

brunos (629303) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629123)

So, is the BSD license viral too? It seems that if you have to maintain the same license, and cannot re-license under other terms, the BSD license IS viral, In which case, it is quite similar to the GPL, so, what is all the fuss about? If this is not the case, and you can re-lincese, then, there is no problem either. I guess Apple, Microsoft etc. do re-license the software taken from BSD, and that is how most people understand the BSD license.

Re:The Actual BSD License (1)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629267)

brunos wrote:

So, is the BSD license viral too? It seems that if you have to maintain the same license, and cannot re-license under other terms, the BSD license IS viral, In which case, it is quite similar to the GPL, so, what is all the fuss about?

The BSD license does not make any requirements as to what you must do with other code included in the project, contrary to what the GPL does. Thus, the BSD is not “viral.” It does, of course, place some very specific and limited restrictions on what you may do with the BSD-licensed code, and those restrictions have the effect of preventing re-licensing of the BSD code itself. Again, other code is unaffected.

If this is not the case, and you can re-lincese, then, there is no problem either. I guess Apple, Microsoft etc. do re-license the software taken from BSD, and that is how most people understand the BSD license.

Apple, Microsoft, etc., most emphatically do not re-license BSD-licensed software, unless they make separate arrangements on a case-by-case basis with the authors. They follow the license precisely, which simply states that they may do with the code as the wish, so long as they acknowledge the authorship of the code as dictated by the license. They follow the terms of the license, exactly as it is intended.

“Most people,” it would seem, misunderstand the BSD license.

Cheers,

b&

Re:The Actual BSD License (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629237)

"This code is GPL, it is based on code by John Hacker that is also available under this license: "

That's perfectly legal. John Hacker can't make licensing claims to code you have written. You can't make licensing claims to code has written.. but you can make licensing claims to a combined work of his and your code.

Just admit it, Mr Moglen (-1, Flamebait)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629025)

The FSF thinks the GPL is the only license that should be allowed to exist. The FSF wants to destroy any other FOSS license in existence. The FSF doesn't want the BSDs to continue to exist as seperate entities, because if they do, people who want to use FOSS will still have somewhere else to run when the FSF inevitably makes the GPL more and more restrictive.

Got to block off all possible exits.

Dual Licensing IS NOT permitted with BSD! (1)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 7 years ago | (#20629119)

The BSD license terms require that the software, source and binary, MUST BE distributed with the same list of conditions! That means that you CAN NOT modify the conditions if you are not the original authors.

It you want to change the licensing terms YOU MUST seek the original authors permission. YES, even if you make significant changes that qualify your changes as a derivative work.

Copyright Law is quite infective about this.

If you dispute this simply show where there is a grant to add any new license terms? Simply show where there is a grant to bind the software up in the GPL?

GPLers: keep your BORG assimilation nano probes off of BSD code. Change your main license to be friendly with linking to other licensed code.
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