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Old 02-07-2008, 01:11 AM
Charles Plessy
 
Default Copyright question (BSD with advertisement clause)

Le Wed, Feb 06, 2008 at 04:30:01PM +0100, Jean Parpaillon a écrit :
>
> 3. All advertising materials mentioning features or use of this
> software must display the following acknowledgement:
> This product includes software developed at the University of
> Tennessee, Knoxville, Innovative Computing Laboratories.

Bonjour Jean,

This is the "advertisement clause" of the original BSD licence. Some
works in main are or were distributed under this clause, so it is
considered DFSG-Free.

However, distributors of Debian can easily infringe this clause: for
instance, if an hypothetical magazine, "Clusterised Linux" would sell an
issue with a DVD of Debian Lenny and advertise it with a slogan such as
"Debian Lenny: faster with upgraded kernel and HPL memory distribution",
the university of Tenessee could obviously claim that the licence has
not been respected because their name has not been cited.

This example is maybe a bit artificial, but the point is that with such
licences in main, redistributors who use advertisement should in theory
read all the copyright files to check who to acknowledge. For this
reason, I wouldn't recommend to include this program in main.

But there is a much better solution. The problem has been well explained
on FSF's website: http://www.gnu.org//philosophy/bsd.html and
importantly, the university of Berkeley from which this licence
originates has now abandonned the advertisement clause. This is a strong
argument, and with it I was able to obtain the relicencing of a
4-clause-BSD-licenced program by the Whitehead Institute. I think that
you have your chances with the university of Tenessee.

Have a nice day,

--
Charles Plessy
Debian-Med packaging team.
Wakō, Saitama, Japan


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Old 02-07-2008, 01:44 AM
Russ Allbery
 
Default Copyright question (BSD with advertisement clause)

Charles Plessy <charles-debian-nospam@plessy.org> writes:

> This example is maybe a bit artificial, but the point is that with such
> licences in main, redistributors who use advertisement should in theory
> read all the copyright files to check who to acknowledge. For this
> reason, I wouldn't recommend to include this program in main.

There is already much software in Debian main with this license and other
Debian Developers who do not agree with this and who will continue to
include such software in Debian main. (It is, after all specifically
called out as a free license in the Debian Free Software Guidelines.) So
the practical impact for a Debian derivative of including or not including
one more package with the four-clause BSD license is minimal.

--
Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org) <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>


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Old 02-07-2008, 03:34 AM
Charles Plessy
 
Default Copyright question (BSD with advertisement clause)

Le Wed, Feb 06, 2008 at 06:44:38PM -0800, Russ Allbery a écrit :
> Charles Plessy <charles-debian-nospam@plessy.org> writes:
>
> > This example is maybe a bit artificial, but the point is that with such
> > licences in main, redistributors who use advertisement should in theory
> > read all the copyright files to check who to acknowledge. For this
> > reason, I wouldn't recommend to include this program in main.
>
> There is already much software in Debian main with this license and other
> Debian Developers who do not agree with this and who will continue to
> include such software in Debian main. (It is, after all specifically
> called out as a free license in the Debian Free Software Guidelines.) So
> the practical impact for a Debian derivative of including or not including
> one more package with the four-clause BSD license is minimal.

Hi Russ,

I think that it is a bit frivolous to distribute software with
advertisment clause in main and not properly warning the redistributors,
who are the most likely persons to infringe the clause. We should
remeber that for other aspects of licencing and intellectual property
management, Debian is much more rigorous, so the presence of 4-clauses
BSD licences is contradicting the principle of least surprise, that is
usually a good guidance.

Importantly, the copyright holders of such programs are often not the
programmers themselves, but the universities, who nowardays face very
strong financial pressures and delegate more and more the management of
the intellecutal property to specialised services, who can be ran by
people who know nothing about the spirit of free software that blessed
the researchers when they wrote their programs.

This is why, as a personnal choice, I do not take the responsability of
introducing new packages with the BSD advertisement clause in Debian,
and I suggest others to refrain as well.

Anyway, I really think that there are good chances to obtain a
relicencing, that is by far the best way to find a solution that
pleases everybody.

Have a nice day,

--
Charles Plessy
http://charles.plessy.org
Wakō, Saitama, Japan


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Old 02-07-2008, 04:01 AM
Russ Allbery
 
Default Copyright question (BSD with advertisement clause)

Charles Plessy <charles-debian-nospam@plessy.org> writes:

> I think that it is a bit frivolous to distribute software with
> advertisment clause in main and not properly warning the redistributors,
> who are the most likely persons to infringe the clause. We should
> remeber that for other aspects of licencing and intellectual property
> management, Debian is much more rigorous, so the presence of 4-clauses
> BSD licences is contradicting the principle of least surprise, that is
> usually a good guidance.

I don't think it's horribly credible that including software covered by
the 4-clause BSD license in Debian violates the principle of least
surprise when we specifically list it as one of our acceptable licenses in
the DFSG.

But regardless, practically speaking, the inclusion of one more or fewer
package in main with an advertising clause will make no practical
difference for the requirements of any redistributor. Any serious attempt
to eliminate this license from Debian would face other challenges first,
such as removing OpenSSL from main. Unless someone has a plan to do that,
which strikes me as unlikely, I disagree with an implication that
including another package with this license would cause any additional
problems for Debian redistributors.

I have no problem with your other arguments against the 4-clause BSD
license. I'm not arguing that it's a good license. But since you were
giving advice to someone who is new to licensing issues, I wanted to
clarify that including one more package with this license would not cause
any noticable hardship for redistributors compared to what they already
would need to deal with.

--
Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org) <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>


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Old 02-07-2008, 04:33 AM
Ben Finney
 
Default Copyright question (BSD with advertisement clause)

Russ Allbery <rra@debian.org> writes:

> I don't think it's horribly credible that including software covered
> by the 4-clause BSD license in Debian violates the principle of
> least surprise when we specifically list it as one of our acceptable
> licenses in the DFSG.

The 4-clause BSD license is not one that we list as an acceptable
license.

DFSG <URL:http://www.debian.org/social_contract> §10:

10. Example Licenses

The GPL, BSD, and Artistic licenses are examples of licenses that
we consider free.

That text isn't specific about *which* "BSD license" is an example of
a free license.

However, in that text, the term 'BSD' is an anchor to
<URL:http://www.debian.org/misc/bsd.license>, which is a copy of the
3-clause BSD license, without advertising clause. That seems explicit
that it's the version given as an example of a free license.

It would perhaps be better for the DFSG to disambiguate "BSD license"
in the text of the DFSG, but the hyperlink to the 3-clause BSD license
without advertising clause serves the purpose in this instance.

--
“It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in |
` trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so.” —Artemus |
_o__) Ward (1834-67), U.S. journalist |
Ben Finney


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Old 02-07-2008, 05:27 AM
Russ Allbery
 
Default Copyright question (BSD with advertisement clause)

Ben Finney <bignose+hates-spam@benfinney.id.au> writes:

> The 4-clause BSD license is not one that we list as an acceptable
> license.
>
> DFSG <URL:http://www.debian.org/social_contract> 10:
>
> 10. Example Licenses
>
> The GPL, BSD, and Artistic licenses are examples of licenses that
> we consider free.
>
> That text isn't specific about *which* "BSD license" is an example of
> a free license.
>
> However, in that text, the term 'BSD' is an anchor to
> <URL:http://www.debian.org/misc/bsd.license>, which is a copy of the
> 3-clause BSD license, without advertising clause. That seems explicit
> that it's the version given as an example of a free license.

Hm, I could have sworn that the DFSG predated the Constitution and hence
predated the existence of the three-clause BSD license. UCB dropped the
advertising clause in July of 1999 and the DFSG were adopted in July of
1997 according to Wikipedia. Hence, I assumed the BSD license as referred
to in the DFSG must, regardless of what the web site currently links to,
actually refer to the 4-clause license since that's the only thing that
existed at the time.

Am I missing something?

--
Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org) <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>
 
Old 02-07-2008, 06:00 AM
Branden Robinson
 
Default Copyright question (BSD with advertisement clause)

On Wed, Feb 06, 2008 at 10:27:55PM -0800, Russ Allbery wrote:
> Ben Finney <bignose+hates-spam@benfinney.id.au> writes:
> Hm, I could have sworn that the DFSG predated the Constitution and hence
> predated the existence of the three-clause BSD license. UCB dropped the
> advertising clause in July of 1999 and the DFSG were adopted in July of
> 1997 according to Wikipedia.

I believe your reasoning is faulty, because it is based on incomplete
information. There was more than one "BSD" license in use well before
USB's Office of Technology Licensing withdrew the 4-clause version.

Back in December 1997, Jordan Hubbard (one of those fringe figures in the
BSD scene ;-) ) said in comp.unix.bsd.freebsd.misc[1]:

: > Redistribution is not permitted, but if you do you must meet the
: > following
: > conditions:
: > 1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
: > notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
: > 2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
: > notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
: > documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
:
: Correct and, oddly enough, also the exact text of the "new FreeBSD
: license", one we've agreed upon for new code not done by UCB. It
: contains only the first 2 of the original 4 clauses since we think that
: the stipulations for documentation are simply silly - I've been using a
: 2-clause version in all my own code for quite some time now.

I haven't taken the trouble to browse ancient FreeBSD CVS repositories to
see when the FreeBSD committers started actually applying their 2-clause
variant, but I hope you'll concede that it's much more likely than you
thought it was, given that Hubbard's language ("quite some time now") and
this evidence that BSD licenses without the advertising clause were in use
a year and a half before you thought they were.

> Hence, I assumed the BSD license as referred to in the DFSG must,
> regardless of what the web site currently links to, actually refer to the
> 4-clause license since that's the only thing that existed at the time.
>
> Am I missing something?

Yes; I think you are insufficiently cognizant of the proliferation history
of BSD license variants.

The BSD advertising clause was considered obnoxious by some hackers well
before the UCB OTL retroactively cancelled it; your analysis presumes that
people only did anything about it only after the University of California
showed the way. I think this inverts cause and effect, and I doubt that
the OTL would have bothered taking such an action without pressure from the
community.

(I have heard rumors that the OTL was in large part persuaded to drop the
advertising clause because of threatened counter-litigation by a party that
was violating it, who made an apparently strong argument that the clause
was unenforceable under U.S. law. Unfortunately, despite poking around for
this over the years and talking to some luminaries who might have been
aware of it--though not William Hoskins himself--I have been unable to
substantiate it. If this turns out to be true, Debian should not be
recommending as a best practice licensing provisions which are legally void
significant jurisdictions like the United States.)

(Why isn't this in -legal? Followups set.)

[1] Message-ID: <349C8CB4.794BDF32@FreeBSD.org>#1/1
http://groups.google.com/group/comp.unix.bsd.freebsd.misc/msg/0946381c11c31f74

--
G. Branden Robinson | The Bible is probably the most
Debian GNU/Linux | genocidal book ever written.
branden@debian.org | -- Noam Chomsky
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |
 
Old 02-07-2008, 06:18 AM
Charles Plessy
 
Default Copyright question (BSD with advertisement clause)

Le Wed, Feb 06, 2008 at 10:27:55PM -0800, Russ Allbery a crit :
>
> Am I missing something?

This ?

http://web.archive.org/web/19990210065944/http://www.debian.org/misc/bsd.license
http://web.archive.org/web/20001205083200/http://www.debian.org/misc/bsd.license

--
Charles


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Old 02-07-2008, 07:24 PM
Russ Allbery
 
Default Copyright question (BSD with advertisement clause)

Charles Plessy <charles-debian-nospam@plessy.org> writes:
> Le Wed, Feb 06, 2008 at 10:27:55PM -0800, Russ Allbery a crit :

>> Am I missing something?

> This ?

> http://web.archive.org/web/19990210065944/http://www.debian.org/misc/bsd.license
> http://web.archive.org/web/20001205083200/http://www.debian.org/misc/bsd.license

That would certainly seem to indicate that I'm correct. Looks like, when
the DFSG was adopted, the license to which it linked was the original
four-clause BSD license.

--
Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org) <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>
 
Old 02-07-2008, 07:29 PM
Russ Allbery
 
Default Copyright question (BSD with advertisement clause)

Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org> writes:

> I believe your reasoning is faulty, because it is based on incomplete
> information. There was more than one "BSD" license in use well before
> USB's Office of Technology Licensing withdrew the 4-clause version.

[snip]

While this is very interesting (I was aware of some of this, but not all
of it), and I appreciate the time that you took to write it up, I think
that:

http://web.archive.org/web/19990210065944/http://www.debian.org/misc/bsd.license

shows that indeed the original BSD license to which the DFSG was linked
was the four-clause version. (Thanks to Charles Plessey for uncovering
that.)

The version in /usr/share/common-licenses/BSD is very specifically the UCB
version, not any of the other versions, and my assumption was that that
had historically also been the case (since it wouldn't make sense to me to
move from a less specific copyright holder to a more specific one).

> I haven't taken the trouble to browse ancient FreeBSD CVS repositories
> to see when the FreeBSD committers started actually applying their
> 2-clause variant, but I hope you'll concede that it's much more likely
> than you thought it was, given that Hubbard's language ("quite some time
> now") and this evidence that BSD licenses without the advertising clause
> were in use a year and a half before you thought they were.

Certainly agreed; however, I was specifically talking about the UCB
version as seen in /usr/share/common-licenses, so I was really being
inaccurate with my original statement.

> (I have heard rumors that the OTL was in large part persuaded to drop
> the advertising clause because of threatened counter-litigation by a
> party that was violating it, who made an apparently strong argument that
> the clause was unenforceable under U.S. law. Unfortunately, despite
> poking around for this over the years and talking to some luminaries who
> might have been aware of it--though not William Hoskins himself--I have
> been unable to substantiate it. If this turns out to be true, Debian
> should not be recommending as a best practice licensing provisions which
> are legally void significant jurisdictions like the United States.)

Note that I have never argued that Debian should be recommending the
four-clause BSD license as best licensing practice. It manifestly isn't.
Only that it is and has been DFSG-free since the beginning of the concept.

--
Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org) <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>


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