Subject: Re: copyright questions
To: Phil Knaack <>
From: Chris G. Demetriou <>
List: current-users
Date: 06/12/1997 19:16:31
> 	Of course, I see from looking at that 
> quite a lot of credit is given to him for OpenBSD/alpha, in fact very
> little is given to anyone else.

Of course, almost none of that was there until very recently (in fact,
until after i switched licenses).

Unfortunately (for your argument), past behaviour _must_ be examined
in addition to current behavior when trying to figure out what future
behaviour is likely to be.

> 	However, what bothers me is the combination of part 4a, the 
> "in any medium" part of 1b, and the extensive list of communication
> types in part 2 (advertising, marketing, informational, publicity materials,
> in print, electronic, or other media) is not "better defined" than the
> BSD copyright, it is extends well beyond the bounds of the BSD copyright.

it is better defined (i.e. it is clearer), _and_ it extends the
requirements of the Berkeley license.  That is not a bug.

As I noted in a previous message, there are two parts of the Berkeley

(1) the letter of the license, which is relatively vague and requires
credit in very few situations (especially for people writing 'base'
system software which is not likely to be mentioned by features or
name), and

(2) the spirit of the berkeley license, which is "give ample credit
where credit is due."

The fact of the matter is, in the past, people/groups _have_ followed
the letter of the license rather than the spirit of the license, and
that is unacceptable to _me_, a software author.  My only recourse in
that case is to make the letter of the license say what I want it to
say more precisely.

> 	"This license applies to all copies of the Software, whether
> partial or whole, original or modified" in tandem with the above means that
> the range of communications affected is .. almost unlimited!  The wording
> is such as to be interpretable in a vast array of ways, meaning that you 
> could prosecute someone in ways that never would have been even possible
> under the BSD copyright.  Even I, with my limited legalese, can see the 
> loopholes you've left yourself in this document.

It's not "almost unlimited."  In a nutshell, it says something like:
"if you're shipping something which is based on or uses software the
software covered with that license or are acting on behalf of someone
who is, you _must_ give me credit in your advertising, marketing, and
informational materials for that thing, be they in magazines, on the

Those aren't loopholes, they're explicitly stated requirements.
Indeed, i've tried to _avoid_ loopholes, and if you spot any real
ones, then please point them out.  However, realize that "loopholes"
are things that let people build systems with the code and _not_ give
me proper credit, rather than things that make sure that I get credit
in the situations where I want it.

Believe me, i've read that license over many times, very carefully,
and so have a bunch of others who also have a tendency for picking

People who don't want to live with the requirements of my new license
have two choices:

	(1) don't ship my code, or

	(2) ask me for a waiver or some kind that covers their
	    distribution of the code.

Contact information is provided at the end of the copyright notice to
facilitate the latter.

If somebody really wants to do a public service and says "I'll pay you
N dollars to re-release that software with a berkeley-style license,
or to assign the copyright to The NetBSD Foundation" I would certainly
consider it.  I can be bought.  However, if all i'm getting from
writing and releasing the code is the enjoyment of writing it (yah,
OK, i'm sick 8-) and the credit i get from distributing it, then I'm a
damned fool if i don't make sure i get that credit.

> 	This is why I feel that, as good as this is for you, this damages
> NetBSD.  Why?  Because even though you have written this code, you did
> give this code to NetBSD.

Not true.  I have not "given" the code to anyone.  I have allowed
NetBSD to use and redistribute (and modify) the code under a certain

Use of code is not a right, it is a (licensed) privilege.  I may have
written code which solves all the world's ills, but you have no
_right_ to demand that you can use and/or redistribute it.  You are a
fool if you think you do.  If NetBSD doesn't want to use code
distributed under that license, so be it.  They do not have to use the
code.  However, just because The NetBSD {Project,Foundation} is
essentially a public service organization doesn't require me to let
them use my code under a license that isn't acceptable to me.

"NetBSD," in the form of core, said that my current license was
acceptable to them for use on software that I write that I want to
include in NetBSD.  (There were previous versions which were not,
though mostly due to bugs, rather than intentional misfeatures.  The
license terms went through several revisions -- typically getting
longer each time -- as things were clarified.)  From what I
understand, there was some debate on the matter, and I'm quite sure
that they gave some thought to the points you pose.

I have not forced anybody to use code covered by my new license, or to
use any of my code under _any_ license.  However, in the future, all
of the code that i'm releasing will be under the new terms.  Does it
make sense to create another split in the BSD community because you
and an unnamed "number of [you]" (who probably will never even be
affected!) don't like my license, when it in fact has no significant
requirements _except_ that the copyright be left intact and that I be
given credit for my work?  I don't think it does.