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Re: [htdig-dev] Licensing issues...

On Mon, 26 Jul 2004, Glenn Maynard wrote:

> On Mon, Jul 26, 2004 at 03:11:52PM -0600, Neal Richter wrote:
> > > 2) Can I reasonably argue that htdig is gpl (or lgpl) if its linked
> > > against a 3 or a 4 cloause BSD license? - htdig .3.1.6 builds static
> > > libraries (.a) it links against.
> >
> >   Sure you can!
> >
> >   Note that although the Free Software Foundation may say that a 4-clause
> > BSD license is incompatible with the GPL (and they do)..... that opinion only
> > applies to code that the FSF holds the copyright for.
> Not quite.  I believe that opinion derives directly from the text of the
> license.  The GPL prohibits adding further restrictions (GPL#6), and the
> 4-clause BSD license does so.  Unless a copyright holder specifically says
> that he considers the 4-clause BSD license consistent with the GPL, it's
> not safe for Debian to assume otherwise.
> That is, the "default" interpretation, lacking a statement from (all of)
> the copyright holders of a work, should be the one that follows from the
> license text, and that's the FSF's interpretation, at least in this case.

  OK... This is good point.

> >   As a matter of copyright law, any copyright holder that licenses their
> > code under the GPL is free to interpret the GPL themselves.  And if that
> > person/group decides that a 4-clause BSD license is OK to include in THEIR
> > code... then the FSF's opinion on license compatibility is irrelevant
> > legally.
> Right.  However, if a license clarification doesn't follow from the license
> text, and/or differs from the common interpretation, then we must be careful.
> For example, if somebody licenses their work under the GPL, and says "by my
> interpretation of the GPL, you don't have to make source available to people
> you send binaries to", then their stated interpretation is clearly inconsistent
> with the actual text of the license.  In those cases, it's best to step
> carefully and conservatively.
> My recommendation to those authors would be to issue a specific exception,
> to the effect of "advertising clauses are permitted without being in
> violation of GPL#6", rather than using an unusual interpretation of the
> GPL itself.

  OK.  It's better to be diligent than cavalier on this issue.  If the
BSD advertising clause is even legal, then someone years from now could
pull a SCO and nail you on just the advertising clause alone.

  I looked into the state of advertising clauses in HtDig 3.1.6, they only
exist in the Berkeley DB directory (which Debian's build/package excludes
by linking against a libdb library) and all of them are "Regents of U of
C" which was stricken from the license recently.  So we're kosher ;-)

  In the current HtDig 3.2b6 (LGPL License) a problematic file is
     20  * 3. All advertising materials mentioning features or use of this
     21  *    software must display the following acknowledgement:
     22  *  This product includes software developed by Powerdog Industries.

This file was removed 2 years ago from the 3.1.x branch (strptime isn't
even called in 3.1.6).  I'm not sure why it wasn't removed from the 3.2 Branch.

It's only called once other than it's own internal recursive calls.

I'll either kill it, move to a different version or ask Powerdog to give us a 3-clause license.

If none of that works then we could amend our version of the LGPL License.
This may be advantageous anyway since it allows us to use NetBSD, OpenBSD,
FreeBSD code.... all organizations very unlikely to pull a SCO on anyone.

I'm taking it for granted that a 4-clause BSD is incompatible with the
LGPL as well since LGPL#10 is the same as GPL#6.  Note that we use the
1991 2.0 LGPL, not the 1999 2.1 'Lesser' version.

> >   Note that I intend no disrespect for any FSF people on this list!  This
> > is just basic copyright law.  A third party can't dictate how a copyright
> > holder interprets any license to it's own code.
> And I no disrespect for the authors of htdig, of course.  It's just best to
> be careful and explicit with issues like this.

  Good point.

  Just curious... are there any other examples other than OpenSSL where
Debian amended the GPL or LGPL?  Do you have a general policy discouraging
4-clause BSD Lics (effectively eliminating using *BSD code)?

  Thanks Glen!

Neal Richter
Knowledgebase Developer
RightNow Technologies, Inc.
Customer Service for Every Web Site
Office: 406-522-1485

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