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Re: BSD Licensing Compatibility

Martin Kelly <> writes:

> Yeah, i will take note of that. I was thinking if i can release it
> under a multi-licenses i probably will. Although, preferably i would
> prefer to release it under a BSD license most likely a 2-clause or
> 3-clause license just for general BSD compatibility as they are the
> OS's i am targeting.

Sorry to be harsh, but this sounds like you do not understand licensing
yet.  If you're going to create a derived work with inputs with
different licenses, you really should understand how this works.

> From what i understand of the GNU GPL license is that you can release
> modified source under a combined license with more permissive terms
> but cannot be released under a more restrictive license.

That's not a fair (or useful) characterization.  In particular, words
like "more permissive" can be interpreted in contradictory ways.

> I also believe from what i have read that a person may release new or
> modified software/source under the existing GPL license or a later GPL
> license unless no GPL version number is mentioned in which you can
> release it under any GNU GPL version desired.
> So for example: One could release combined modified source from JFS &
> AdvFS under the GPL v2 or v3 license. As JFS licensing does not
> specify a GPL version while AdvFS is under the GPLv2 license.

That seems a stretch from the text.  The recommended way to write GPL2+
is to include an explicit "or later" clause.

> This also means if i was to use UFS2 source i could only release the
> new a filesystem under a multi license of BSD & GPL. This still leaves

Your notion of multi license is too fuzzy to address.

> the question of the likelihood it being included into the mainline
> distribution like NetBSD?

With GPL components intended for the kernel, essentially zero.  But if
the result is simply GPL2+, then you could provide a module.

> What i mean is, when software is released under a certain license its
> relatively clear cut as to whether another OS like Linux or BSD will
> be able to use that software as apart of their mainstream or not.

3-clause BSD-licensed code is usable by just about any system.

> For example ZFS.

ZFS is actually a tricky example because it is under CDDL.  I suggest
reading the wikipedia article and following the licensing references.

> But how to distributions decide if it can become
> mainstream under a multi-license? Do they take the software as a whole
> and base it on the most restrictive license? or is it broken down into
> separate packages and dependencies?

Again, multi-license is not a normal term and does have clear meaning.

The question of "software as a whole" vs "separate parts" is indeed a
tricky question and cannot (reliably) be answered in the abstract.  It's
tricky because licensing issues often hinge on whether something is a
"derived work" vs "mere aggregation", and that in turn can depend on
whether there are standard published interfaces (e.g. POSIX) vs private
APIs (see the Linux kernel module licensing discussions about so-caleld
GPL-only interfaces).

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