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Re: Why UCB dropped the OAC [was: Re: flowc license]

On Sun, Feb 13, 2005 at 12:28:51PM +0100, Francesco Poli wrote:
> On Sat, 12 Feb 2005 12:26:24 -0500 Glenn Maynard wrote:
> >
> > ftp://ftp.cs.berkeley.edu/pub/4bsd/README.Impt.License.Change doesn't
> > mention rationale, either.
> This is the relicensing notice and it's useful, but, as you point out, it
> lacks the rationale. Anyone know where to read the reason why UCB dropped
> the Obnoxious Advertising Clause?

Hmmm. I could have sworn I had a URL for some discussion of it (much of
which was speculative, but speculation by folks involved with the issue at
the time, not just FSF folks), but I don't seem to be able to Google it up
any more.

> > (I've heard claims that UofC's relicensing was based more on the fact
> > that the clause is probably unenforcable than the FSF's practical
> > complaints. I don't know if that's true.)
> Well, if that's true, perhaps it could be even more convincing...

I've read many varieties of reasoning for it, ranging from "Agreed with
the FSF" to "Got tired of the FSF nagging" to "Decided it was probably
unenforceable" (often in combination with one or both of the first two) to
"wanted to re-incorporate code and not have to publish a list of 50+ people
in their advertising". In general, I find the two most persuasive arguments
to current licensors, as a rule, are:

1) It becomes cumbersome and difficult to maintain and update a list of
every possible clause in every license (and some licensors have as many as
3 or 4 *different* wordings in a single source tree, if they changed how
they wrote their license over time). This eventually encourages folks to
simply rewrite code under a license that lacks these problems, rather than
reuse old code (thus meaning that the intended result - credit for one's
work 'in the wild' - is lost anyway).

The fact that distributions with extremely widely published source are the
rule, more than the exception, these days helps with this - because it
means that the copyright notice will normally be present and visible to
anyone who wants to go looking for it.

2) It causes gratuitous incompatibility with code under the GPL that is
not triggered by the 3-clause version. The strength of this argument can
vary a lot; it helps to know your audience (if talking to a serious BSD
bigot, this could *hurt* your case, because they often froth at the mouth
and consider anything that harms the propagation of the GPL to be a good
thing, and don't want their code "infected" by it).

<fnord/>) And, of course, there's always the issue of peer pressure. "Well,
the Regents did it, and <insert list of other authors convinced> have all
found it a compelling enough argument to do so; really, what do you have to

Along the lines of this last point, it helps if you can expound on it
from a position of "I contribute to the <foo>BSD project(s), and I use
<2/3>-clause BSD because it makes everyone's lives simpler in that context"
(me, I use the 3-clause BSD, MIT, or Boost licenses, as a rule, depending
on just how much I care about the time I put into the code and what
audience and purpose I am publishing it for). People are often happier to
follow a good example, and feel less like you're just preaching at them to
get something you want out of them.
Joel Aelwyn <fenton@debian.org>                                       ,''`.
                                                                     : :' :
                                                                     `. `'

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