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Re: Copyright question (BSD with advertisement clause)

Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org> writes:

> [You didn't honor my M-F-T so I guess this will continue to go to both
> lists.]


> On Thu, Feb 07, 2008 at 12:29:29PM -0800, Russ Allbery wrote:
>> The version in /usr/share/common-licenses/BSD is very specifically the
>> UCB version,

> A major point of this whole discussion is that there is no "the UCB
> version".  There have been multiple BSD licenses, even promulgated by
> the single source we call the University of California at Berkeley.

Fair enough.  This is probably not a good bit of evidence.  The archive of
old project web sites is better.

> The copyright line in /usr/share/common-licenses should be made generic,
> or better yet, not even be present.  Much of the benefit of the
> common-licenses directory is lost if it can serve as a stand-in for
> particular licenses *as applied by particular copyright holders*.


Please do comment on that bug with your preferred resolution of the issue.
I personally would lean towards just removing it entirely since the exact
wording of that license varies so much from package to package that I
don't think having a copy in common-licenses is buying anything.

>> 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.

> First, I think you are reading far more deliberation into where the
> Debian Project has pointed web links in the past, and what it's put into
> /usr/share/common-licenses/BSD, than is warranted.

Well, regardless of what I'm reading into what, I'm fairly certain of my
statement above, both for some of the reasons I've stated and reasons that
I haven't bothered to get into.  If you have specific evidence to the
contrary, I certainly would be interested, but I think it's quite obvious
that the four-clause BSD license was considered DFSG-free when the DFSG
was written and the reference in the final clause was intended to be
inclusive of that version of the license (for whatever that final clause
is worth).

> If I were to write some code and license it under the BSD license (in
> the terms spelled out in /usr/share/common-licenses/BSD), package it,
> and have my debian/copyright file refer to
> /usr/share/common-licenses/BSD, that would not mean that the Regents
> hold the copyright on my code, nor would such an action on my part
> transfer the copyright to them.

Of course not.  I'm not sure what this has to do with anything I said.

> Secondly, phraseology like "is and has been" ("and will be for all
> time!"  usually follows in arguments like this), denies the very real
> phenomenon that humans learn over time.

And when humans learn something and decide to change something as
fundamental as license interpretation for the project, as far as I'm
concerned they have an obligation to make that change explicitly.  Please
feel free to propose a GR making the four-clause BSD license non-free if
you believe that's the best course of action for the project.  Until that
time, as far as I'm concerned (and as near as I can tell, as far as
ftp-master is concerned) it is DFSG-free, with a great deal of precedent
in the archive and in past interpretation of the DFSG.

In the absence of a GR, this discussion, which we've repeated several
times over the years, is rather annoying in its sheer futility.

> Moreover, these license exemplars have been revised *by their original
> promulgators*.  Consequently, I do not think you can argue that the
> supersession of the licenses we originally identified as examples in
> 1997 is the work of upstarts who don't understand the meaning of Free
> Software, or who are trying to subvert or pervert it the concept[2].

I have never said anything of the sort.

As I have repeated several times in this thread, I don't consider it a
good license, I don't recommend that people use it, and I don't use it.
It is, however, DFSG-free, and it is common enough in the archive that
introduction of more software under that license does not materially
change anything for anyone working with Debian.  Those two things and only
those two things are all that I have argued.

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

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