Subject: Re: copyright questions
To: None <current-users@NetBSD.ORG>
From: Thor Lancelot Simon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 06/13/1997 12:30:45
> Also, I would be very disappointed to hear that this is brought about
> becausee someone wants to "stick it to OpenBSD" for various reasons.
Well, from the trillings of their mouthpiece on our mailing lists, it seems
fairly obvious that that's what the *OpenBSD* people want you to think, yes.
However, I invite you to consider one reason certain OpenBSD folks might be so
put out by Chris' new license terms. You see, one of the key reasons that
OpenBSD exists at all is that Theo DeRaadt wants to "stick it to NetBSD" as
much as he possibly can. I'm not saying this off the top of my head -- he
told me so at least three different times, both on the telephone and in
person. Whether one agrees with him or not about his reasons, I think it's
pretty much indisputable that that's the case. He also seems to bear a great
deal of personal animosity to certain NetBSD developers.
One way this personal animosity has shown up in the past has been in a total
lack of acknowledgement to NetBSD developers in any OpenBSD promotional
materials, *including* those touting "specific features of the software".
After all, if the letter of the license gave you wiggle room, would *you* give
credit to people you considered to be your mortal enemies?
So it doesn't surprise me very much that OpenBSD isn't happy about Chris' new
license terms -- while effectively having the same import as the old BSD
license, they are precise enough to require that credit be given where it's
due; that is, to put an end to Theo's practice of lifting bits of NetBSD code
and never even mentioning where they came from. This, of course, runs
counter to the purpose of sticking it to NetBSD.
I don't think that anyone from the OpenBSD project is in much of a position to
take the moral high ground here. After all, one of the things that motivated
this license change is that an OpenBSD developer stripped Chris' name and
copyright off some Alpha toolchain code and submitted it to the FSF. Oh, but
I suppose wanting your name not to be stripped out of code you've written is
evil NetBSD source hoarding, too?
I think that what you've pretty obviously got here is an entity that's been
playing fast and loose with the old license terms complaining because they've
been tightened. It's as if I'd found a huge loophole in the tax law, and then
when it was eliminated, complained that "Congress was trying to stick it to
Thor Lancelot Simon". Hardly.
What is required, and has always been required, is that credit be given. Now,
however, the requirement is stated in a more enforceable fashion. Gee, I
wonder why that might upset some folks?
As to concerns that commercial entities promoting NetBSD might have to include
a list of dozens of names in printed advertisements, two thoughts:
* Donation of code to The NetBSD Foundation is actively encouraged.
* Many advertisements are likely *already* in noncompliance with the
BSD license. If they mention "specific features" -- like, say,
the Berkeley networking stack -- they have to give credit. This
actually came up in the USL/BSDI lawsuit.
* Chris' new license encourages those who would like to distribute
his code under a less restrictive license to contact him, and
even says how. I would be quite surprised if he were to prove