Subject: Re: copyright questions
To: Chris G. Demetriou <>
From: Phil Knaack <>
List: current-users
Date: 06/13/1997 09:11:03
Chris Demetriou writes:

>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.

	So what you're saying is .. you hold grudges.

>  [ .. BSD copyright .. ]
>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.

	But ... you're NOT saying the same thing as the BSD license.
The "spirit" of the BSD copyright, which you only speak of partially
to suit your needs, also includes a grander purpose .. that being the
concept of "freely distributable" software, and if you'll let me get
sappy for a moment, the betterment of the intellectual community.

	Code under the BSD copyright is "freely distributable" given the
"appropriate credits."  You claim your stuff is also "freely distributable"
given the "appropriate credits," but your definition of "appropriate credits"
is different enough from the BSD copyright's definition as to make the
concept of "freely distributable" in your copyright .. a farce.

	So yes, you get more credit.  But it is no longer
NetBSD. It is NetCGD.

>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.

	"I can be bought."  Those words will forever represent you I think.

	And about the enjoyment of writing it -- that *is* why I write code.
("If lovin' the code is wrong, then I don't wanna be right! YaYes!")

>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.

	If you have a problem with what happens to code committed to the
NetBSD tree under the existing BSD copyright that has been an accepted
form of copyright/license for a very long time, then perhaps you need to

		1) what you commit to NetBSD, and

		2) the goals you hope to attain in working with
		   the NetBSD project.

	Clearly you have unstated personal goals in mind.
*That* hurts NetBSD.  I can't believe Core can't see that.

>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.

	Well I'm glad we've agreed to disagree.  As you might have guessed
I do not believe there are "no significant requirements" different from
the BSD copyright.

	But, If another "split" does occur, I do not think it will be the
fault of me or anyone else who dislikes your license.  That responsibility
would rest squarely on *your* shoulders.

>"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.

	Any document a person writes is shaped the most by those ideals
that person holds dear.  I'm quite sure that when the first versions of
the BSD copyright were drafted, a great amount of thought and decision 
went into it, too.

	No matter how much you revise, that document gains a
representation, even if very subtle, of the ideals the author holds.
Now, if there are unspoken ideas and desires, those influence the document
as well, even if the words themselves seem harmless enough, cloaked in
another form.

	Now the original folks who drafted the BSD copyright had their
ideals, and I'm sure they had something to do with what I mentioned above--
freely distributable code, and the betterment of the intellectual
community [proper crediting being implicit].

	Jason Thorpe felt that I had not witnessed enough of NetBSD's 
source tree, and cited the example of Jonathan Stone.  I have seen his
copyright/license.  There is nothing special about it, other than
specifically citing his name as the author.  Yes its a personal license,
but it attempts the same flair and purpose as the BSD one.

	Your copyright, on the otherhand, while attempting to mimic the
BSD copyright, is shaped by your ideals and goals, which I've conjectured
above, differ from those of other free-OS developers.  Your copyright
smacks less of a free-OS license and more of commercial software.
Your copyright says "Me, Me, Me" where the BSD copyright says
"Free, BSD, Me." That hurts NetBSD, and that is what I have a problem

Phillip F Knaack
Systems Administrator, Information Development for Extension Audiences (IDEA)
Iowa State University Extension