Subject: Re: Technical Differences of *BSD and Linux
To: Terry Lambert <>
From: der Mouse <mouse@Rodents.Montreal.QC.CA>
List: tech-kern
Date: 02/04/2003 02:18:48

> If Copyright law were to acknowledge the existance of Public Domain,
> by providing liability protection for authors whose code was used by
> third parties, resulting in damages, then almost every BSD developer
> I'm aware of wuld release their code as public domain, instead.

How does the present way work any better?  How does "Copyright 2003 by
J. Fred Muggs" with a BSD-style license grant provide any greater
liability protection in the face of such a scenario?  Under what

>> Of course, Linux's use of the GPL ensures that OS hackers who want
>> that kind of egoboo won't go there; thus, they end up with the BSDs,
>> because there isn't much else in the open-source OS world.
> This is actually incorrect.  At one point in time, the email address
> of the driver authors was printed out in boot messsages, under Linux.

Fine - but there was no binding requirement that this be done, as you

> They had a "flag day" in which Linus removed all the printf's.

The driver authors didn't get to do the "you gotta credit me" thing,
which was my point.  Credit is fine.  Using the legal mallet of
copyright law to _demand_ credit is what I was referring to.

>> Pity, too, because the BSD world has a lot to offer, technically,
>> but it's shooting itself in the foot, socially and legally, by
>> permitting this sort of chest-beating.
> This is Richard Stallman's argument against the original four clause
> BSD license, specifically the "claim credit" clause, clause 3.  There
> are three problems with this argument:

> 1)	It was invalid, for the entire time that CSRG existed, and
> 	there was a single statement that would have been necessary in
> 	advertising.

At most, this is a problem there _was_ with the argument; it is not a
problem there _is_ with the argument.

> 2)	The clause only triggered if you mentioned "feature or use of
> 	this software", according to the license.  So unless [...]

Or if you said "our OS is based on {Free,Net,Open}BSD", which is much
more plausible.

And, perhaps more important, for someone without the legal staff to
investigate exactly what counts for these purposes (eg, freeware
projects), you have to either recite the claimer or skate the legally
thin ice of not doing so when maybe you need to.

> 3)	Most new software these days is contributed without the caluse,
> 	and uses a two cause a three clause license, instead, omitting
> 	the "disagreeable" clause.

Good for their authors.

This has no bearing on what I said: the BSD world is shooting itself in
the foot, socially and legally, by permitting such licenses.  Except
for code infected by the original four-clause BSD license, such credit
clauses have never been required; yet, some seventy-plus people have
used them, and BSD has let them - NetBSD, at least, and I've seen not
even a claim that the other BSDs are any different in this regard.

>> Arrogant and unhelpful as this is, there is a grain of truth lurking
>> in it: nobody but you can ever tell you quite what the difference is
>> for your purposes.
> This is also incorrect.  It's like going into a sports arena in New
> York and delaying a hockey game so you can get on the P.A. and ask
> "Which is better, Catholicism or Judaeism?".

No, that might be a fairer analogy if the original question had been
asked on, say, a woodworking list.  (At least with respect to, where I saw it; I don't know the other lists well
enough to say how on-topic it was for them.)

Also, the original message - I went back and reread it - did not ask
which was better, as your analogy does; it asked for a discussion of
the differences.  Closer might be to ask a group of priests and rabbis
"what are the differences between Catholicism and Judaism?".

> Many people can tell you very easily what the differences are, but to
> do so would be to incite a riot.  [...]

All reasonable and (depressingly) probably true.

But none of those are reasons to ridicule the question, much less the
questioner, just reasons to answer off-list.

>> Of course, I've also seen it said (privately) that the original
>> message could well have been a troll.  If so, it was rather
>> well-done,
> No, actually, it was poorly done.

Well-done as in being a convincing imitation of the serious variant of
the same question, not well-done as in an being effective at inciting

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