Subject: Re: copyright questions
To: Chris G. Demetriou <>
From: Jim Wise <>
List: current-users
Date: 06/13/1997 19:14:25
On Fri, 13 Jun 1997, Chris G. Demetriou wrote:

> First of all, my motive is _not_ necessarily to make it easier for
> people to build commercial products around my code.  As stated before,
> if somebody is building commercial software from my code, I want to be
> credited for the work i've done, period.  Commercial software vendors

Yes, In _all_ media, as your license says.  Someone has already raised
the point that this is not really feasible in media such as print

> _have_ used code of mine in the past, and _have_ given me correct
> credit; it can be done.  As noted, I'm perfectly willing to grant
> exceptions, as well, just people need to contact me about it before
> hand.

This is simply not a valid excuse.  The whole point of the NetBSD
Project is code which can be freely redistributed under a set of simple,
specific requirements, not code which can be freely redistributed with
the permission of Chris Demetriou (and whatever hundred other people see
fit to emulate his license terms.)

> Second, VERY FEW licenses in the NetBSD source tree require only
> credit in the documentation.  The standard berkeley copyright, which
> everyone has cloned, says that the attribution string must be shown in
> advertisements if features or use of the software in question is
> mentioned.  What does that mean?  If your advertisement mentions IP
> networking functionality, on goes the berkeley attribution string.  If
> your advertisement mentions support for device X, then it's quite
> likely that that author's attribution string goes on.  If your
> advertisement mentions support for device Y, ...

Sure.  But there are thousands of features in any real system.  While
requiring credit to be given to those you mention in an add _may_ be
feasible, requiring credit be given for the thousands you don't is
simply not workable.  Or is the intent of our license that "you may sell
NetBSD, but you may not advertise it."?

> My point here is that there are already things mandating credit in
> "advertising space."

Sure.  For mentioned features.  The distinction is clear.

> My problem was that the type of software that I write is typically
> _not_ the type of thing that gets mentioned.  It's low-level support
> code without which the system could not function at all, but it has
> little in the way of "features" except "system functionality," which
> is really too general a claim.  Therefore, I wouldn't get attribution
> credit, and that bugs me.

No one is forcing you to contribute code.  We all appreciate the great
amount of excellent work you have done for the Project, but if the only
way we can continue to benefit from your work is to sacrifice the
Project's ideals, I, for one, say no thank you.  I am also curious to
hear from more of core on this -- it surprises me greatly that this
license was accepted into the source tree without being submitted to
general discussion.  (How does this affect DEC's plans to use NetBSD,
for example?)

> As you've noted, credit in documentation is relatively easy to comply
> with (modulo finding all of the license notices), though, in the past,
> people (including myself) have used the tack of "the source code is
> part of the documentation" to cover it.  Realistically, finding all of
> the copyright and license notices is too big a job and too much of a
> hassle for most distributors of free software.

So why do you seek to require it?  I may be missing your point here...

> > I would say that allowing a license that dictates what is done with 
> > expensive advertising space is suicidal for the NetBSD Project.  (and
> > ad space is just one example of it's all encompassing verbage)
> But they're already there, and have been since day one.

If the existing license met the same conditions as yours, why the new
license?  You yourself have portrayed the new license as a change in the
credit rules.  I feel, as, apparently, do several others on this list,
that it is a change which benefits you at the expense of the Project.

> I agree, the great number of differing licenses _doesn't_ help the
> project, and I've thought (and said) for a long time that the project
> should be forcefully pushing for copyright assignments (rather than
> softly pushing, as it's doing now).  However, _I_ am not going to jump
> on that boat until it's ready to leave the pier.

No.  I would argue, in fact, that your current tack is actively hurting
that goal.

				Jim Wise