Subject: Re: README: -current broken for a while
To: Brad Salai <>
From: Bill Studenmund <>
List: current-users
Date: 09/03/1997 17:50:06
On Wed, 3 Sep 1997, Brad Salai wrote:

> At the price of a little redundancy for the participants, it would help the
> viewers, (me at least) to understand this a little better if we knew what
> the real issues were.
> I take it that the licenses are different in some way, but how?

I don't really know all the issues, but a few have been mentioned. The
"standard" Berkeley (see a lot of the files in sys/kern) requires
recognizing the authors in advertizing and promotions _mentioning_the
code_in_question. For example, the Berkeley IP stack.

But a number of people write code which is used at a lower level. It's not
a "feature" except to the extent the OS works at all. Chris wrote lots of
code falling into this category. Also, some things have happened which
came across as(*) violations of the tradition of recognizing an authors
work. (*) I've heard details only second and third hand. From the
perspectives I've heard, the incidents were violations. I've not hard from
the other side, and, as the Minbari say, truth is a three-edged sword. 

So Chris wrote a license which protected his interests. Basically if you
used the product including this code, all promotional and advertizing
literature had to mention the author's contribution. This license was
mentioned to core before it was included in the tree. The license which
made it into the tree was ok'd by core.

This license was discussed on current-users after it got noticed (I forgot
by whom). There was much heated discussion, as many people mentioned
potential problems with the license. Basically it would need a special
license from the author to not be too onerous. I think Chris would have
been willing to grant such a license; I'm not sure. No such license was
granted as far as I know.

Core then decided the best course of action was to remove the code covered
by the new license. As Chris's efforts had touched many parts of the tree
to its benifit, a lot of changes had to happen. So things kinda broke.

I gather that Chris found out about core's decision when things started
getting backed out of the tree (or re-engineered).

Personally, I can see both sides of the issue. I doubt I'm going to do
anything as high-profile as gaining advertizing mention. But I think the
new license could have created a morass for any commercial entity using
NetBSD. Say a consultant who installs it on client systems. Given that
they can switch to other free OS's, I'd rather not give them incentive.

> Distributing code, or any copyrightable works without a copyright notice
> isn't fatal to the copyright as it was years ago. At most, it leaves open a
> possible claim of innocent infringement, but I believe an inadvertant
> omission could be easily cured by adding the notice as soon as the omission
> was noticed.

I think the problem here was that the code in question started off having
copyrights and licenses which were removed by other parties. Once incident
I heard mentioned was that code Chris had written & copyrighted was
submitted to the FSF folks as the work of another author. 

I'd be livid if that happened to me.

> I actually do copyrights for a living, and would be glad to give a little
> back if it would help, as NetBSD has been very useful to me.

That might be good. Though I'm not one to comment here.

> Stephen B. Salai                            Phone (716) 325-5553
> Cumpston & Shaw                             Fax    (716) 262-3906
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