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Re: Is no-advertising clause GPL-compatible?

On Wed, Aug 07, 2002 at 09:17:21AM -0400, Kevin B. McCarty wrote:
> My question is this: some pieces of code have an approximately BSD license 
> but with a no-advertising clause, such as the following:
>  *             Copyright (c) 1991, Visual Edge Software Ltd.
>  *
>  * ALL  RIGHTS  RESERVED.  Permission  to  use,  copy,  modify,  and
>  * distribute  this  software  and its documentation for any purpose
>  * and  without  fee  is  hereby  granted,  provided  that the above
>  * copyright  notice  appear  in  all  copies  and  that  both  that
>  * copyright  notice and this permission notice appear in supporting
>  * documentation,  and that  the name of Visual Edge Software not be
>  * used  in advertising  or publicity  pertaining to distribution of
>  * the software without specific, written prior permission. The year
>  * included in the notice is the year of the creation of the work.
>  *-------------------------------------------------------------------*/
> Is this GPL-compatible?  If not, what would you suggest I do about it?

Historically, this is regarded as a GPL-compatible license.  The
GPL-incompatible BSD-style clause is the one that *forces* you to
publicize the name of the copyright holder in advertising materials.


Note that the University of California has retroactively stricken this
clause from all of their BSD software, rendering all of it

It's my guess that the license you have quoted is regarded as
GPL-compatible despite what might at first blush be regarded as an
"additional restriction" because the thing being restricted isn't the
software itself, but the name of the copyright holder.  In my assessment
as a non-lawyer it isn't really necessary to include clauses like this in
copyright licenses because the license doesn't grant permission to
freely use the name of copyright holder in the first place; just free
use of the licensed work.

To provide a simple example, Linus Torvalds doesn't need to put anything
in the copyright license of the Linux kernel to have recourse if Red Hat
Software were to put his picture on the Red Hat Linux retail box with a

Were they to do so, Linus would have legal recourse because his name and
likeness are in no way the same entity as the Linux kernel.  Red Hat and
the general public have a license for the latter, but not the former.

Because of this, in my opinion no-advertising clauses are dumb, and
contribute to the widespread notion that you can and should bog down
your copyright license with all sorts of crap that is utterly irrelevant
to copyright law.  However, as used by BSD-style licenses they are not a
great evil, and they are widespread enough that there's not really any
point trying to regard them as DFSG-non-free.

The Free Software Foundation regards them as GPL-compatible, and I've
never heard of any GPL-using copyright holder disagreeing with them on
that point.

I hope this helps!

G. Branden Robinson                |    The first thing the communists do
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    when they take over a country is to
branden@debian.org                 |    outlaw cockfighting.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |    -- Oklahoma State Senator John Monks

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