Subject: Re: Licensing constraints...?????
To: Ted Lemon <>
From: Bill Studenmund <>
List: current-users
Date: 08/28/1997 16:06:19
On Thu, 28 Aug 1997, Ted Lemon wrote:

> > If the problem's what I think it is (which it might not be!), it's that,
> > with CTM & NO base source files, you could get a file (or large pieces)
> > w/o the original copyright (since it's not changing, there aren't diffs on
> > it). Lookaing at sys/kern/init_main.c, in the BSD copyright, item 1 is:
> Well, more importantly, if you had a source file with a different
> copyright, and you read just the diffs, you could use them to apply
> fixes from the main line to your copy of the file, and theoretically
> not be covered by the copyright.   Having just spent a bunch of time
> finding incompatibilities between NetBSD/Alpha and the MILO PALcode, I
> can say with some authority that the majority of time is spent finding
> and figuring out these incompatibilities, not writing the code to work
> around them.   So these diffs do generally represent *significant*
> work.   Ensuring that they are covered by the license, be it BSD or
> something else, is worth some effort.

True. I think that's why CTM'd need some sort of promise from the user to
actually use the diffs. Like you get a copy of the source for the day when
you join CTM, and apply all the patches as you get them. Or something to
that effect. Basically, you promise that you're using them to maintain a
parallel copy of the full NetBSD source tree. Well, that you're using them
in a manner consistant with the licenses on the files as of the version
before the patch.

> However, my suspicion is that looking at the diffs to see what changed
> could be construed as fair use in any case, so I'm not sure what this
> really means in a legal sense - it may be that even if every diff
> contained the license for the file to which it applied, it wouldn't
> make any legal difference.   I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know the
> precedents in this case, if there are any that apply (I doubt it).

We could be discussing the precedent. ;-)

I think there's fair use as an educational work, and outright use. I don't
think CTM makes a difference here. In that if company X uses the source as
a learning guide & opts to ignore the license (saying it was an
educational fair use, etc.), I don't think CTM makes a difference.

I thought the problem was that you could build up a file and pretend that
it didn't have a license. In the fair use above, it seems to me that
company X has seen that there's a license, and chooses to ignore it. Here,
company X is trying to pretend there's not a license; something much
slimier in my book.

StdDisclam: I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one at work. :-) But since
law's mainly about rhetoric (== fancy hot air), we all seem to be
qualified. :-)

Take care,