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Re: Copyright question (BSD with advertisement clause)

Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org> writes:

> I believe your reasoning is faulty, because it is based on incomplete
> information.  There was more than one "BSD" license in use well before
> USB's Office of Technology Licensing withdrew the 4-clause version.


While this is very interesting (I was aware of some of this, but not all
of it), and I appreciate the time that you took to write it up, I think


shows that indeed the original BSD license to which the DFSG was linked
was the four-clause version.  (Thanks to Charles Plessey for uncovering

The version in /usr/share/common-licenses/BSD is very specifically the UCB
version, not any of the other versions, and my assumption was that that
had historically also been the case (since it wouldn't make sense to me to
move from a less specific copyright holder to a more specific one).

> I haven't taken the trouble to browse ancient FreeBSD CVS repositories
> to see when the FreeBSD committers started actually applying their
> 2-clause variant, but I hope you'll concede that it's much more likely
> than you thought it was, given that Hubbard's language ("quite some time
> now") and this evidence that BSD licenses without the advertising clause
> were in use a year and a half before you thought they were.

Certainly agreed; however, I was specifically talking about the UCB
version as seen in /usr/share/common-licenses, so I was really being
inaccurate with my original statement.

> (I have heard rumors that the OTL was in large part persuaded to drop
> the advertising clause because of threatened counter-litigation by a
> party that was violating it, who made an apparently strong argument that
> the clause was unenforceable under U.S. law.  Unfortunately, despite
> poking around for this over the years and talking to some luminaries who
> might have been aware of it--though not William Hoskins himself--I have
> been unable to substantiate it.  If this turns out to be true, Debian
> should not be recommending as a best practice licensing provisions which
> are legally void significant jurisdictions like the United States.)

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.

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

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