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Theo de Raadt On Relicensing BSD Code 613

iBSD writes "KernelTrap has an interesting article in which Theo de Raadt discusses the legal implications of the recent relicensing of OpenBSD's BSD-licensed Atheros driver under the GPL. De Raadt says, 'it has been like pulling teeth since (most) Linux wireless guys and the SFLC do not wish to admit fault. I think that the Linux wireless guys should really think hard about this problem, how they look, and the legal risks they place upon the future of their source code bodies.' He stressed that the theory that BSD code can simply be relicensed to the GPL without making significant changes to the code is false, adding, 'in their zeal to get the code under their own license, some of these Linux wireless developers have broken copyright law repeatedly. But to even get to the point where they broke copyright law, they had to bypass a whole series of ethical considerations too.'"
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Theo de Raadt On Relicensing BSD Code

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  • irony (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:06PM (#20589389) Homepage
    If Theo didn't want people copying his code and redistributing it under another license, he should have used the GPL...
  • by b1ufox ( 987621 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:08PM (#20589423) Homepage Journal
    Another trolling article submitted to /. and sadly chosen too.
    Yesterday RMS, today Theo, tomorrow Jeff Jones...

    Too much trolls on /. these days. /. is turning into osnews in terms of trolling stories.

    Nice going, keep it up troll feeders.
  • Not again! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xophos ( 517934 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:10PM (#20589451)
    Could you please cut out these stories? He didn't say anything new. The Point was allready made. The mistake has long since been corrected and so on...
  • Sure, but (Score:4, Insightful)

    by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:11PM (#20589469) Journal
    I think what he is trying to get at is, since the GPLers are so into the concept of 'freedom' of their license, and respecting it, why can't they offer the same level of respect to BSD license?

    Instead, GPLers strip the license and replace it with a license that they feel is 'better', but incompatible with the BSD. If they had kept it BSD, they could use it with the GPL, and the BSD folks could still use any improvements made.

    But again, no respect for the license. Following the letter of the law, true, but not the spirit. Geez, where have I heard that before ...

  • Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:11PM (#20589471) Journal
    I have to admit I am a little confused. You can take BSD code and close it completely under a commercial license, why couldn't you use the GPL instead of a closed commercial license? Why is it unethical to use the GPL but not to use a totalitarian closed license?

    Maybe some technical violation occurred in the credits or some such but this just sounds to me like sour grapes because they can't have the changes. They can't have the changes when the source is used in a closed commercial environment, the BSD guys maintain that as ethical so they really don't have any ground to stand on here. Nobody has violated the spirit of the BSD license which is essentially "Here it is, take it and do what you want with it, even if that means incorporating it into a product that makes you millions of dollars and completely closing the software without sharing any modifications back."

  • this is stupid! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by dermond ( 33903 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:12PM (#20589489)
    someone who writes code under BSD licence knows that this could be used for commercial projects without returning ANY source at all. one could argue that thus wirting code under BSD licence is stupid in the first place. but why do these people complain when someone uses it under GPL if they would even allow use it for bloody comercial, binary only products? this is stupid hypcriticism...
  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:16PM (#20589569)
    I'm going to give you an "If I were them, I would have...", but in this case, it's not hollow. I've actually done this before, to positive effect. If you're going to use someone else's code under terms slightly different from what they clearly intended, I see an obvious course of action: ASK PERMISSION.

    They say that it's often easier to get forgiveness than permission. This is absolutely not the case in the FOSS community. Yes, Theo is a hot-head, and he's clearly over-reacting. But at the same time, some Linux contributor didn't think very hard about the wishes of the original author of the code they borrowed. They just took it. In the FOSS community, we're not about copyright. We're about ethical sharing of ideas and the rights of both software developers and software users.

    How long could it have taken to ask? "May I use your code?" "May I alter the license on your code?" "If not, is there some compromise we can reach?"

    Learn some manners!
  • Re:Sure, but (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Orange Crush ( 934731 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:21PM (#20589655)

    This whole "controversy" makes absolutely no sense to me. Anyone can take BSD code, change it however they desire, and they don't have to give anything back if they don't want to. That's the whole *point* of the BSD license. The altered code can then be used in a closed source proprietary product if desired.

    If a developer would like to make changes to BSD software but wants *their* contribution to be GPLed, more power to them.

  • Re:Still confused (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:21PM (#20589665) Journal
    It's still a license. The only way to make code truly unencumbered is to release it into the public domain. Then anyone can do anything they damn well please with it.
  • Hey Darin (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:30PM (#20589843)
    Hows that KHTML code workig out?
    I hope that the code has been of some assistance at Apple.

    Seriously, whoever posted the message, do you have any specific complaint?
  • Re:Confused (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:30PM (#20589847)
    The difference is, when some company takes it and modifies/improves the code for their closed source applications, the BSD people don't get to see any of it. Or in some situations, they do get it back in source form, in which case they're also very happy. But when someone takes BSD code and improves it with GPL code, it's all in the open, and for the BSD guys the situation is, you can see but you can't touch [1], which makes some of them very mad. (It seems to be mostly OpenBSD folks, the other BSD guys don't seem to have any problem with it)

    [1] You can touch, of course, but only under the terms of the GPL, which makes Theo and his supporters nauseous :)
  • Re:Sure, but (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Score Whore ( 32328 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:39PM (#20590011)

    The code was available under either licence.

    Some was, some wasn't. Jiri changed both. Regardless it's a moot point because he isn't the owner of the code, he cannot dictate the terms to the code. What he can do is choose which terms he wants to distribute under, but he cannot pass that code along and set the terms for the people he passes it to.

    Before you reply, note that I'm talking about code that Jiri didn't write here. Code that he doesn't have any standing to set the terms on.
  • Re:Sure, but (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sgt scrub ( 869860 ) < minus punct> on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:43PM (#20590081)
    Your correct but it doesn't make it right. GPL people should have enough respect to leave BSD licensed stuff BSD licensed. We aren't M$. Unfortunately this goes further. The code is a port not a rewrite, (this is arguable but...) Regardless, hard work went into making the BSD version and it was used to make the Linux version. IMHO they deserve the right to have it licensed with their information attached and under their preferred license.
  • Re:this is stupid! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by raddan ( 519638 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:43PM (#20590089)
    Hypocrisy is taking code from a project that shares it freely and then slapping a restrictive license on it "so that it can be shared freely". Doesn't anybody see the irony in that?

    That's the "unethical" part that Theo talks about. The "illegal" parts are:

    1. removing the BSD license notice altogether, and
    2. making it look like the authors of the linux derivative work are the original authors.

    In 1, yes, doing so doesn't change how the now-dual-licensed code is distributed, since the GPL's distribution terms supercede the BSD's. But it does change a legal document, and that is important.

    In 2, this is a bigger deal, since derivative works are subject to different copyright law, particularly given the venue.

    The thing is-- this stuff is easy to fix. Treat it like a bug, be an adult, and amend the broken files. No one wants to keep BSD drivers out of Linux, and the real meat of the discussion is: is it good for the F/OSS community to be taking code in a manner that is, at the very least, offensive to some people? You're absolutely right when you say that it's perfectly legal to slap a GPL license onto BSD code, but why do it other than to prove you can? Does anyone here really think that Atheros gives a shit about a BSD driver for their chipsets? And even if they do-- who cares? If Atheros wants to replace their shitty drivers with something better, so be it!

    F/OSS depends on cooperation to survive. If you want real software freedom, you can't be petty. The whole idea is of giving, not taking.
  • by dbc ( 135354 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:45PM (#20590115)
    While I can't disagree with anything that you say, still it seems to me that the right place for an author to make his wishes known is in the license. How hard is that? Anything less is simply intellectually lazy.

    And here is some raw data for you from actual Real World (TM) experience. At one Fortune 500 former employer of mine, code got released under a variety of licenses, including proprietary, BSD, and GPL, as fit the need of the situation. BSD was the license of choice for "fire and forget" situations, where the company wanted the code out there (working example code in an application note, for instance) but didn't want to be a long-term maintainer. One company lawyer said, and I'm quoting precisely: "Don't worry, a free version will always be available. Somebody somewhere will slap a GPL on it within 7 seconds of release." So you see, some people chose the BSD when they actively *want* the code to be forked under the GPL.
  • Re:Still confused (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MoneyT ( 548795 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:47PM (#20590167) Journal
    Isn't one of the tennets of the GPL that when you distribute the code, you must confer the same rights onto the next person that you were given with the code? I would argue that includes the option to use the code under the BSD license rather than the GPL (given that GPL is more restrictive). If you fail to include the option to license under BSD in your distribution, you are violating the spirit if not the letter of the GPL by removing freedoms which you previously had been granted.
  • Re:Sure, but (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Score Whore ( 32328 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:50PM (#20590245)

    The included license file says that the software may be distributed under either license at the users choice. The Linux developers chose to release it under the GPL, as they had every right to do.

    Read that and keep reading it until you can see the problem there.

    (Hint: the license says what terms you can use to distribute. It doesn't give you the right to set the terms for the people downstream from you.)
  • Re:Sure, but (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:55PM (#20590335)

    Anyone can take BSD code, change it however they desire, and they don't have to give anything back if they don't want to. That's the whole *point* of the BSD license. The altered code can then be used in a closed source proprietary product if desired.

    Some versions of the BSD license have one requirement which GPL does not: an advertisment clause. That is any "advertisment" of the software (or reference to the software in literature) must mention "University of California, Berkeley and its contributors". Newer versions of the BSD license (post 1999) do not have this clause but a lot of code is still licensed using the old 4-clause BSD license.

    Other than that, you are completely right.

  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) * on Thursday September 13, 2007 @01:03PM (#20590453) Homepage Journal

    I don't want OpenBSD forked, I want the possibility out there, and the possibility means ensuring there's an organized group willing to take the reins should it be necessary. I believe that the threat of forking should be enough to prevent it from happening - at least, prevent it if the current leadership remain viable project leaders.

    And if it forks specifically because OpenBSD's leadership are unable to behave responsibly, well, that's better than the project collapsing altogether, which is the inevitable result of the leadership and community continuing to behave as it does today.

  • by AHumbleOpinion ( 546848 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @01:12PM (#20590615) Homepage
    If Theo didn't want people copying his code and redistributing it under another license, he should have used the GPL...

    I think you are missing the point, it is one of ethics not legality. The FOSS community is built upon the notion of giving back. An ethical FOSS developer would take a BSD driver, improve it, and release his/her changes under the original license. This new work is usable in Linux and he has given back to the community that the improved driver is derived from. However in this case the developers chose to engage in zealotry, to violate the FOSS spirit of giving back, and that is very insightful into their character.
  • by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @01:12PM (#20590621)

    You can't be serious. Another fork of BSD? I mean there are only 4 widely recognised free forks out there, plus lots more that may not be open, not recognizable as BSD, or not significant... Actually I have the feeling that you are a secret Linux agent, trying to splinter the forces of BSD. Yes, that would make sense.

    Perheaps the BSD crowd should do some soul-searching and ponder why there are four forks, each maintained by a crew which appears to be violently hostile to all the others (not to mention all "outsiders" and "interlopers", such as those building other Unix-like operating systems, say, Linux).

    As an aid in your investigation, pay attention to these unseemly feral cries of "Mine! Mine! Mine!" emanating from the land of the supposedly "most free" (to use by anyone for anything, even closed source projects!) license, brought on by this very incident.

    All proving to be rather amusing (and quite educational) experience.

  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) * on Thursday September 13, 2007 @01:15PM (#20590669) Homepage Journal

    Wait, so as long as one admits to violating copyrights and stops doing it, it's ok to abuse anyone whose copyrights you violated, to lie about them, to insult them, to generally do what you can to alienate a similar community with similar ideals?

    And where did I say copyright law no longer applies to the OpenBSD team? Because I don't see it.

    In both cases, where the OpenBSD team violated the copyrights of the Linux community, and where one person in the Linux community proposed a patch that, had it been accepted, may have violated the copyrights of the OpenBSD team in some instances, the OpenBSD team's behavior is utterly unprofessional, dishonest, insulting, abusive, and ultimately alienating. That's the issue here. This is why the OpenBSD community needs to take a good, hard, look at the way they do things and consider reforms before the group destroys any ounce of credibility it still has.

  • Re:Sure, but (Score:2, Insightful)

    by EllisDees ( 268037 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @01:15PM (#20590673)
    Umm, if they wanted to restrict what people can do with their code, they should have chosen a different license. Is that not the whole point of the BSD license?
  • Re:Still confused (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dan Ost ( 415913 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @01:26PM (#20590835)
    Anyone who wants to use the BSD code can use the BSD code.
    Anyone who wants to use the BSD code with GPL modifications will have to use it as GPL.

    Neither of which applies to this case where the original code was already GPL (via a dual license) and so anyone who wants to use the GPL code with GPL modifications will use it as GPL.

    None of this is new to anyone. The complaint is that GPL developers benefit from the hard work of BSD developers without giving back. Of course, that's exactly how the BSD developers intended for their code to be used and that's not really what's happening since the GPL developers *ARE* giving back, just not in the form of BSD code.

    Historically, I tend to side with Theo on things, but this time I think his position is inconsistent and indefensible. Either I haven't seen all the facts or Theo has made a mistake.
  • Re:Sure, but (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @01:28PM (#20590863)

    Your correct but it doesn't make it right.

    This makes no sense to me.

    If you release your stuff under a license that allows something, doing so, by definition, makes that something "right".

    If you do believe that some things that can be done with your code are not "right", then you release under a license that specifically forbids those things.

    In other words the BSD people want to have the cake and eat it too, choosing arbitrarily and willy-nilly which things they believe are "right" to do with their code and which are not, without actually changing the terms of the license! They want the BSD license to be preceived as "most free" while at the same time putting arbitrary (and uwritten!) restrictions on those whom they dislike, such as us, the GPL "communists".

  • Re:Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phliar ( 87116 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @01:30PM (#20590897) Homepage

    Actually they cannot change the source code license.

    The code in question is dual licensed: you can use it either under the BSD license or the GPL. It's your choice. In this case the person chose the GPL (and not BSD).

    As good a hacker Theo is, he's not a copyright lawyer. (His digs at Eben Moglen are in extremely poor taste.)

    Perhaps now the "BSD is the only free license!!!" zealots will admit that they too want to restrict what others can do with their code. (There is no "100% freedom".)

    The lesson from all this is: do NOT pick a license based on politics, religion, and fashion. Read the license (or talk to a copyright lawyer) and pick the license that works the way you want it to -- not because RMS or Theo or Joe Blow says it is the only true and FREE!!! license. (You'd think hackers would be able to deal with the law better than this -- with both software and the law, what is written down is the only thing that matters. Your intentions, what you really meant, have nothing to do with anything once it's written down.)

  • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @01:32PM (#20590937) Homepage
    Here is one reason why BSD guys would rather see BSD code taken completely proprietary than see it go GPL: when the code goes completely proprietary there is still a chance that patches will be contributed back to the original BSD project.

    Consider the "stupid tax". This is the "tax" you must pay if you take BSD code, change it, and keep the changes to yourself: every time the BSD project releases a new update, you will need to sync up your custom changes to the official project. The time and effort this requires is the "stupid tax" you are paying for being "stupid" (i.e. not contributing your changes back to the project).

    The hope is that after a while, companies that have been paying the stupid tax will say "this is stupid" and contribute their changes to the main project. But with a GPL fork this just won't happen.

    Any time the BSD project releases an update, someone will merge the changes in to the GPL fork. And if you contribute changes to the GPL fork, of course they are in every release and you don't need to do anything. So there is no real pressure on features added to the GPL project.

    With no GPL fork, you must choose between sharing with the BSD project, or "paying the stupid tax". With a GPL fork, you have a way to avoid the stupid tax and share with others, yet deny the changes to the BSD project. (If you are doing proprietary things with the BSD project, you will not of course have this option.)

    And of course, it must be maddening for the BSD project guys to see the patches going in to the GPL project and know that they can't use them. If the GPL project gets a new feature that's a good idea, they must re-code the feature, just because of an incompatible license. (That's why I licensed my lf [] utility under BSD; I'm hoping it will become a standard part of the userland in all *NIX someday, and the thought of the BSD guys having to re-do all my work just made me sad.)

  • by TerranFury ( 726743 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @01:32PM (#20590949)

    Darin wanted his code on this one utility module to be 100% free.

    And it is!

    The fact that somebody licensed a derivative work under the GPL in no way changes the license on Darin's code. Darin's code is still BSD and always will be, and from now into perpetuity, anybody can use Darin's code however they want, just like he'd intended.

    What people can't do is use the derivative work however they want -- like, in a proprietary piece of software. But that's another issue! Some guy started with Darin's code and made something else out of it; let's call that guy "Bob." It's really just Bob's changes to Darin's code that are GPLed.

    You see? Nothing the GPL people can do or have done will change the fact that anybody can get Darin's code under the BSD license.

    The problem is this damn word "relicensing" we keep using. It implies that the license is somehow changed. It isn't!

  • by EagleEye101 ( 834633 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @01:39PM (#20591121)

    You can't be serious. Another fork of BSD? I mean there are only 4 widely recognised free forks out there, plus lots more that may not be open, not recognizable as BSD, or not significant... Actually I have the feeling that you are a secret Linux agent, trying to splinter the forces of BSD. Yes, that would make sense.

    Perheaps the BSD crowd should do some soul-searching and ponder why there are four forks, each maintained by a crew which appears to be violently hostile to all the others (not to mention all "outsiders" and "interlopers", such as those building other Unix-like operating systems, say, Linux).

    Yes, because there is only one distro of linux out there...
  • by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @01:47PM (#20591267)

    Honestly, I think Linux is just as vicious towards BSD as BSD is towards Linux.

    That might be true in many cases, but IMHO it is a mere reaction which occurs because the GPL crowd is rather frequently confronted with various truly ridiculously hypocritical stances by the BSD proponents. Such as the one we are discussing.

    As to why so many forks, the answer is definitely not technical as the distinctions you indicated make no sense. One can have fast and portable OS, just as well as one can have SMP capable and fast one, one with small memory footprint and portability. Etc and so on.

    The true answer is different: Towering, Monumental, Gigiantic Egos of the various participants. Egos which have to be kept apart at astronomical distances lest explosions brighter then the Sun were to immediately occur otherwise.

  • by synthespian ( 563437 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @01:53PM (#20591363)
    Oh, nice rhetorical technique...Next you'll say there isn't a problem at all.

    I think Theo has been very clear. In particular, when he points to Copyright law and to the fact that, in the EU, Eben Moglen needs a tourist guide.

    The linuxers just can't take it that they have to respect a different license. And one very different than their moralisitic, religious choice.
  • RTFA, dammit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Estanislao Martínez ( 203477 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @02:15PM (#20591763) Homepage

    Further, to make things even more ridiculous, many on the BSD side claimed at the time of the bcw violation that this was somehow evidence that the BSD license was "superior" because it wasn't viral, and BSD code could be incorporated into Linux without violating any licenses. They're now arguing the exact opposite, some even claiming the BSD license is viral.

    To paraphrase you: "I didn't read what Theo wrote."

    Actually, that was uncharitable. Let me offer you a better paraphrase: "I didn't bother to try to understand what Theo wrote, because I was convinced beforehand that nothing he could say could change my mind, because my opinions are not based on anything as flimsy as evidence."

  • Re:Confused (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dctoastman ( 995251 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @02:32PM (#20592071) Homepage
    But you couldn't add the dual-license requirement per the GPL since the GPL disallows adding any requirements. If you release GPL, you must give all downstream the same freedoms you were allowed with no other restrictions.
  • by weierstrass ( 669421 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @02:44PM (#20592297) Homepage Journal

    OpenBSD is a respected operating system that is relied upon by communities and businesses across the world. It deserves, and demands, a stable leadership committed to creating the best operating system they can.
    Crap. OpenBSD became the respected and secure operating system it is, because it has an unstable leadership composed of borderline lunatics without any sense of perspective, committed to creating the best operating system they can.
  • Re:Still confused (Score:4, Insightful)

    by synthespian ( 563437 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @02:54PM (#20592461)
    although I imagine that the authors opinion is only partially relevant: it's written right there that it's "you can choose to be covered by either the GPL or the BSD, at you option", so the authors opinion only serves as an aditional guarantee.

    No it's not irrelevant. The author grants you Copyright. You do not take it. There's a difference. Furthermore, the author was very explicit in his intention in the mailing list. It's very clear for all to see. I'll bet that this would make a reasonable case in any country signataire of the Berne convention. Of course, it will be up to a judge to decide. But if you ever used a lawyer's service, unless a judge is completely detached form reality, a party's intention is always taken into consideration and evem more so when he feels harm has been done to him or because of him.

    Forthermore, you can't strip the BSD license. The license says so. The BSD license does not license the license as that would void it (and would be utterly ilogical). The license licenses the code. The license says: "do what you want to this code, but maintain the Copyright and this note." It's not so hard to understand. Yeah, I know...reality sucks. GPL zealots do not like the conundrum this situation poses to their beloved moralisitic philosophy written in stone.

    In fact, this would be a very interesting case on Copyright laws and open source development, specifically as it regards the fashion in which these people work (distributed tools, mailing-lists...). I'm actually suspicious that some lawyers in the Linux camp want to take this to court...Maybe that's the root cause of all these US lawyers giving strange advice.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 13, 2007 @03:26PM (#20593029)
    By "the guy who wrote the code" you are obviously referring to the venerable Sam Leffler. Theo makes it explicit that he is not talking about Sam's code, but rather the code written by Reyk which was only ever released under an ISC-like license and not an "either/or" arrangement like Sam's code was. So I would suggest that it is you who is out of line, speaking about things in public as if you know what you are talking about when you actually don't.
  • by mritunjai ( 518932 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @03:28PM (#20593075) Homepage
    I'm not eligible to comment on the legal ramifications, but I certainly think there are moral issues in there.

    If you're supporting GPL and hence software freedom, you must respect other's freedom too. There is nothing like my way of freedom is bigger than your freedom.

    It *might* be ok for a corporation to lock their modifications under lock-n-key, but it's certainly NOT ok for software freedom torch bearers to do the same AND thump their chest about supporting freedom of software. Respect given is respect got! There are no two ways about it.

    What was done might not be illegal (I don't know!), but it was definitely abusive and obnoxious. You can't claim the moral high ground after doing the same thing as the people you denounce. Hell even everybody's favorite enemy Microsoft didn't change the copyright on BSD derived software they use... ftp.exe still contains the BSD license.

    Think again!
  • Re:RTFA, dammit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Carewolf ( 581105 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @05:40PM (#20595435) Homepage
    The BSD license clearly doesn't restrict your choice of license for any derivative works you may make.
    Which is exactly the point. Theo is arguing that Linux is not allowed to use GPL for their derived product, thus arguing against the spirit of BSD licenses ( and making no sense).
  • Re:Sure, but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by synthespian ( 563437 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @07:47PM (#20596969)
    I think the solution for coders who wish to release their code under both license is to provide two separate downloads - one with the BSD license, one with the GPL license - but that doesn't help here.

    But, you see, the linuxers just know that, for all practical purposes, that would void the GPL license. And they can't tolerate that. Because they like to live free inside the cardboard box Stallman made for them. The problem is, the BSDL is a superset. Think outside the box.

    This is what Reyk said:
    I used to cooperate with the people working on the
    madwifi port of "OpenHAL"; we exchanged ideas, bug fixes, and small
    code snippets.
    They sent me some bug reports and I also looked at
    their changes and reported some functional problems. This was possible
    because they kept the license in place.

    But now the Linux code is almost ready and somebody wants to cancel
    any options to cooperate by locking me out with a prepended GPL and an
    invalid copyright on top of it.

    I also strongly disagree with the
    concept of adding a new copyright and/or a GPL license on top of it
    it is still a derived work and a few stylistic changes, some code
    shuffling, and some bug fixes
    don't allow to change the copyright.

    He is very explicit and all the points to which he alludes to have technical backing in Copyright law (IANAL BTW): no substantial changes; the concept of derived work; the concept that the work was publicly displayed under a Copyright modification; and the fact that the license was removed against his will.

    What are the linux developers to do? Well, they could tweak the code to the point that there is substantial change (which would probably be stupid, as you are just adding bloat). Or, they could maintain the original license. Which would void the GPL for the parties that are interested in GPL software, except for those that take GPL software and close it, reselling it under a proprietary license (such as MySQL). It might be unfortunate (for the Linux camp) that Reyk released it under a dual-license. But it is so, and there's nothing the GPL camp can do about it.

    The SFLC lawyers are probably silent because the just know that the Linux developers would probably get cremated in court. And Theo warned that this case may not be based in the US (ever so lax in international treaties), but in the EU. It's incredible, but it seems people are sticking their heads in the sand.
  • Re:RTFA, dammit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Estanislao Martínez ( 203477 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @09:30PM (#20598015) Homepage

    Here's what Theo has to say about the above instance:

    It may seem that the licenses let one _distribute_ it under either license, but this interpretation of the license is false -- it is still illegal to break up, cut up, or modify someone else's legal document, and, it cannot be replaced by another license because it may not be removed. Hence, a dual licensed file always remains dual licensed, every time it is distributed.

    Are you claiming that you can break up, cut up, or modify somebody else's legal document? Are you claiming that there is anything else giving you permission to modify a BSD-licensed piece of code within a broader file, other than the BSD license granted to you by its author of that piece of code?

    Seriously, once you strip out all the confused terminology that people are misusing all around the conversation ("license," "licensing," "relicensing," "file"), all that Theo's saying boils down to the fact that you can't pretend that you are the owner of code you do not own, and you can only use somebody else's code in the ways that they give you permission (i.e. "license") to use it. None of the other stuff you are saying has anything to do with this point.

  • by SnowZero ( 92219 ) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @11:20PM (#20598869)

    His dispute was not about the facts of the matter, but rather, the conduct of the people who pursued it; his claim that the morally correct way to handle it would have been to first shoot off a private email to the guy who made the error.

    Maybe Theo should follow his own advice.

  • by jadavis ( 473492 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @01:59AM (#20599869)
    before [OpenBSD] destroys any ounce of credibility it still has.

    The developers of, among many other achievements, OpenSSH, have more than an ounce of credibility. Any attempt to marginalize a group that's produced such a vital, omnipresent contribution is an attempt to rewrite history.

    We should remember that security is hard and that to produce secure software requires not just the will but also rare ability.

    Your other criticisms may be valid, but we should remember who we're talking about here. Security experts are among the most difficult developers to replace. There's a reason that we're talking about OpenBSD on slashdot right now: the viability of the project could have an impact on many people.

Air is water with holes in it.