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Re: Unfortunate Licence Mix

Joachim Breitner wrote:
> I was just about to package "psybnc"[1], a popular irc bouncer. 
> A closer look into the src/ dir revealed that the author seems to have
> followed the Free Software spirit by not re-inventing a lot of wheels,
> but didn't pay close attention to legal stuff...

Never a good combination. :)

> His own works are GPLed, and have correct copyright notes. But there are
> two files that worry me:
> snprintf.c:
>> * changed slightly for the use in psyBNC 2.2.1 by psychoid
>> * changed a little bit more for 2.2.2. We always use this
>> * in psybnc now, but without any support of %n or %p. Hope
>> * you love the fact no format bugs can be exploited, even if you
>> * are able to bypass the formatstring-filter which is
>> * built into psybnc since version 1.1 :)
>> */
>>/* ====================================================================
>> * Copyright (c) 1995-1999 The Apache Group.  All rights reserved.
>> *
[snip Apache License, version 1.0]
>> *
>> * This code is based on, and used with the permission of, the
>> * SIO stdio-replacement strx_* functions by Panos Tsirigotis
>> * <panos@alumni.cs.colorado.edu> for xinetd.
>> */

This is definitely incompatible with the GPL, which makes the work not
distributable.  However, depending on how much SIO differs from stdio,
it might be possible to replace this with code from glibc or from some
other stdio implementation.

Side note: while researching this further, I discovered that the xinetd
license requires keeping the original version number and only appending
new numbers:

> 1. The version number will be modified as follows:
>       a. The first 3 components of the version number
>          (i.e <number>.<number>.<number>) will remain unchanged.
>       b. A new component will be appended to the version number to
>          indicate the modification level. The form of this component
>          is up to the author of the modifications.

  While DFSG4 does allow licenses that "require derived works to carry a
different name or version number from the original software", this seems
to go much further than that, since it requires keeping the original
version number.  There is a note in the license file giving the current
upstream maintainer an exception, but that does not change the
requirement for other distributors.

> (sorry for posting the whole thing, but with legal stuff, I better not
> cut away stuff that might be important).

Thank you.  It is always preferred to include the full text of licenses
in the body of mails to debian-legal, for quoting and commentary.

> And the second file, bsd-setenv.c:
>> * Copyright (c) 1987 Regents of the University of California.
>> * All rights reserved.
>> *
[snip 4-clause BSD license]
>> */
> If I payed attention, both of these contain the "bad" advertising clause
> that make them incompatible with the GPL, and thus the psybnc
> distribution impossible. Is that right?

Yes.  Also, the Apache license is incompatible with the GPL even in the
newer versions without the advertising clause, because it has a
requirement not to use the name "Apache" in derived works.

> Is it also right that finding re-licenced versions of bsd-setenv.c
> (without the Advertising Clause) would solve the problem for this file?
> Or can I just re-licence the file myself, since BSD officially changed
> the licence for all their works (or something)?

Since the copyright holder is the "Regents of the University of
California", the advertising clause is superseded by
ftp://ftp.cs.berkeley.edu/pub/4bsd/README.Impt.License.Change , so you
could just include a note in debian/copyright to that effect.

- Josh Triplett

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