Subject: Re: copyright issue
To: None <current-users@NetBSD.ORG>
From: David W. Rankin <>
List: current-users
Date: 06/18/1997 10:31:19
Segmentation Violation. Core dumped. wrote:

> For what it's worth, at this point, while there are legalistic aspects of
> this license and copyright stuff here, I'm tempted to go the Rat's Ass
> route (as in I don't give a) myself.

> I do see how some people may perceive danger here, but in a way, it seems
> a lot of hot air (no offense intended towards our illustrious Alpha
> portmaster).

There's a bit more than talk involved here. The problem with the cgd
license is that it makes ANY discussion of cgd-encumbered NetBSD that
doesn't include the "magic incantation" a copyright infringement. It
doesn't matter if Chris has said that he doesn't care about these
infringements, they are still infringements.

The first problem I have with this is personal. I am a software writer
has had at least one person post my code out to Usenet with his name on
it, not mine. I understand Chris' rage. Because of this, I strongly
to follow all licensing and copyright requirements. However, the cgd
license is very broad and quite unforgiving in its letter. If I ever use
the cgd-encumbered NetBSD and then mention any product or system that
uses cgd-encumbered NetBSD without also saying the magic incantation,
I am infringing. I will not put myself in that position. Yes, I could
a release from cgd. Not only is that cheating, but I am not willing to
distribute NetBSD with the cgd license, and I won't use what I won't
to others.

This also impacts a project I had at work. I was trying to get some
collected so that I could get a PCI Token Ring card driver for NetBSD,
then co-operate in the DCE 1.2.2 port to NetBSD. Then I was going to try
to get my employer to let me give that work back to the NetBSD
However, using cgd-encumbered NetBSD for this would cause my employer to
be under the cgd license requirements. The corporate legal would go 
balistic over this license, and probably ban NetBSD from the company,
I DO NOT want that to happen.

Finally, this license sets a dangerous precident. Never before (AFAIK)
a freely-distributable software license regulated discussions about the
product between people. I believe that such a license is very bad for
software in general and NetBSD in particular, and I _don't_ believe that
the NetBSD Foundation should sell its soul (an operating system
only by the BSD license or act-alikes) for cgd or any other developer,
matter how essential to the Project he might be.

> I would suggest, though, that if we're going to be totally retentive on
> the issue, some wording might be tossed in such that should the
> copyright/code ever change hands whether through sale, assumption,
> deceasement or other transfer (initiated by the holder of the copyright),
> the copyright in question would become null and void and the old NetBSD
> copyright as well as any copyrights NOT held by the original holder
> would remain in full force.

> In short, if he dies and/or a hostile party acquires rights to pursue,
> legally, the letter of the copyright, it would be unenforceable to a
> hostile end.

For the record, I don't particularly care who owns the license, I just
tried to use this point for those who insisted that Chris would never
enforce his license strictly. And please remember copyright != license.

This lends itself to "what kind of license can we create now" when the
BSD license is very succinct. IMHO its the BEST free software license
out there. It keeps the code truly free, and it doesn't burden the code
user with any unreasonable demands. IMHO, requiring any informational
communications in any medium (which includes voice) to include a very
specific acknowledgement of cgd is completely unreasonable. I don't care
about exceptions, the BSD license was created so people wouldn't HAVE to
go around and get exceptions in the first place. Remember that the
proponants of the Copyleft answer a lot of complaints about the Copyleft
with "You can always go to the author to get an exception...."

> Another way to handle it, and he could if he REALLY wanted to be a
> pseudo-asshole about it (very hypothetical, no offense intended here,
> either, Chris!), would be to extend implicit waivers to everyone
> signed up on the NetBSD mailing lists at the time the code is modified.

> Or he could say that "these parties, <list>, are explicitly denied use
> of this code" and list the offending parties.

"almost-free" software? Now this REALLY violates the free-software

> But I think this is going WAY far afield from what needs to be addressed.

> I'm not about to lose any sleep over this, and if I find myself in the
> position to re{sell,distribute} code and/or binaries, I'll probably
> not lose any sleep on it then, either, as I don't ever intend to be in
> a position which could cast aspersions upon the NetBSD project as a whole,
> or its members.

Remember, you are effected by this just by being an encumbered NetBSD