On the continuing decline of the GPL
Pointed out by Mishka, who found this 451 group's
blog posting, I'll let the image speak on itself,
even if it does not target NetBSD in particular:
[Tags: gpl, licensing]
Cuneiform opensourced under BSD license
This is not strictly NetBSD-related, but still of interest as
I consider licensing an important topic. Mike 'mishka' Volokhov
wrote me mail to point out that the Cuneiform OCR program was
recently opened under a BSD license. Mike notes that according to
the Cuneiform Forum (russian language),
the license for the Puma OCR core was chosen for three reasons:
If you ever need to
convince your PHB
to use the BSD license, there's one more example for you, now. Thanks Mike!
- the BSD license allows to use the same core in other commercial products of
- the BSD license matches research and educational purposes so as it gives
"more freedom", as it was outspoken by developer company
- other companies can use the OCR engine in their commercial projects
[Tags: cuneiform, licensing]
Thoughts on the old GPL vs. BSD license squabbling
This one was pointed out by Olaf Seibert (thanks!):
When trying to convince people that the GPL is so much better
than the BSD license, one argument that you hear a lot is that
GPL forces people (and companies!) to open up their code
for the benefit of everyone. Nice idea - but is it true?
Harald Welte, who's done a lot for making people understand
what the GPL is and is not
(e.g. with his GPL Violations project)
on that benefit:
``if somebody asks me, how much the actual Free Software source code benefits from the code that was released by the vendors, my honest reply would be simple and sad: None.''
There are other benefits like public awareness, community
building etc. that are also of importance to the whole
Open Source community, and that a software license may or may not
have an impact on, so this may be up for further discussion.
Making code available at least is not what the GPL helps about,
so I guess
the BSD license isn't that bad after all.
[Tags: gpl, licensing]
GNU General Public License (GPL) Version 3 Draft 1
and participate in the discussion of the license in a constructive
way. This license WILL affect all of us, whether we like it or not.
From a very rough look, it has become even longer, going from 13
to 19 clauses. (Just why do I have to think of the European
Constitution right now? ;-)
Please let me add that I do think that
the GPL -- while it has a few problematic terms -- is, in general,
a very nicely written license, as it's very specific about what to do and
what not to do. This can serve as a good introduction to the
whole licensing topic to people who don't know about laws
(like programmers :). Of course the size of the document rather
turns people away, unfortunately.
[Tags: gpl, licensing]
More software license fun (Update #2)
I've received a few answers to my inquiries about yesterday's software
In summary, I found it very interesting to discover this nit, and
communicate with various parties about the issues involved, even if some
of them cannot be dealt with in a civilized manner. Most of them were a
joy to work with! Maybe a good preparation for a second career ... :)
- From ISC (where the license comes originally from), Paul Vixie promptly
acknoledged the problem, and apparently an update will be made on their
- Groklaw's Pamela Jones mentioned that there is an issue, but of minor
importance as the original copyright holder still can point at the
disclaimer he included. As Chris Hopps pointed out in private
communication, the only party that may probably be hurt is the one
removing the license when passing on. A different issue would also be
license proliferation, leading to many "weak" licenses instead of one
"strong" license - I tend to agree.
- One reply I got from OpenBSD (which use the ISC license) was sent by
Theo deRaadt, which was accusing me of not understanding the issue at
hands and that I just want to play a game. And that this is why NetBSD
still uses restrictive licenses (hu??) and that I should please never
send him mail again. (Funny note aside: I didn't write with my NetBSD
mail address, and didn't mention that with a single word in my mail).
- Todd Miller, also from OpenBSD, wrote a much nicer mail, confirming
the issue, and that they also looked at the MIT license.
- Thorsten Glaser, driving force between MirOS, an OpenBSD-spinoff,
let me know that he removed the copyright template completely from
their source tree.
It seems the MIT/X11 license, which served as an example for
the ISC license also has the problem. Whom to contact @ X.org?
MirOS has only removed the copyright template, and
of course not the copyright on the individual files. Doh!
Software licenses are fun
In my next life, I'm gonna be a lawyer. The other day, I came
across the following license:
* Copyright (c) CCYY YOUR NAME HERE
* Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this software for any
* purpose with or without fee is hereby granted, provided that the above
* copyright notice and this permission notice appear in all copies.
* THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS" AND THE AUTHOR DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES
* WITH REGARD TO THIS SOFTWARE INCLUDING ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF
* MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHOR BE LIABLE FOR
* ANY SPECIAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OR ANY DAMAGES
* WHATSOEVER RESULTING FROM LOSS OF USE, DATA OR PROFITS, WHETHER IN AN
* ACTION OF CONTRACT, NEGLIGENCE OR OTHER TORTIOUS ACTION, ARISING OUT OF
* OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OR PERFORMANCE OF THIS SOFTWARE.
Spot the problem?
Read the second paragraph closely: when passing this on, the first
("the above copyright notice") and second ("this permission")
paragraph needs to be preserved, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE THIRD
ONE? Shall I really be able to pass on the software but leave out
passing on the "no warranty"-clause? I don't think so, too.
The mistake was already confirmed by the copyright holder of
the original license, and the good deed of the day was to notify
another project that chose the same license.
Buzzword bingo: BSD, TCG, TC, TPM and DRM
After Linux got drivers for the "TPM" digital rights management chip
trousers, german language
the question about interest and support in in BSD
was asked on the German-language BSD forum BSDforen.de.
was sent to single developers of the various BSD projects (one of them
being me, after Christos and Alan said everything there really is to say:
nothing at all :-). Here are some answers, all little surprising, by
DragonflyBSD's Matt Dillon,
FreeBSD's Scott Long
as well as
myself for NetBSD.
Best entry in the thread is probably Daniel Seuffert's
commenting on Linux jumping after every M$ feature:
``You shouldn't complain about fleas tomorrow if you go to sleep
with the dogs tonight''. I think he's right, and I don't want any
DRM near me. No, thanks. Never.
(Lars, who posted that questionnaire, also sent me a number of interesting
links for learning more about the whole issue at hands:
The AgainstTCPA website,
Ross Anderson's TCPA-FAQ,
Bruce Schneier's CryptoGram on TCPA etc.
Chaosradio #78 )
[Tags: drm, licensing]
More BSD code: IBM's Slimline Open Firmware (Updated)
The software may not be to thrilling: IBM has released a
bootloader for PowerPCs based on the IEEE-1275 (Open Firmware)
standard. While they've
lost their biggest customer,
it may help others ;).
The more interesting thing here is that the code is released
under a "liberal Open Source Software (OSS) license", which looks
remarkably like a 3-clause BSD license.
This is the 2nd big company who has discovered the BSD license
recently, after AOL.
Of course a bootloader is no
enduser software, and companies like Brocade may well customize the
software without being forced to open up changes, so this is
definitely a favour to such companies, and an example how Open
Source can be made business-fiendly.
But with IBM aiming for Linux and GPL-based software so far, do
we see a chance in thinking here?
[Tags: ibm, licensing]
Eric S. Raymond on GPL and the BSD License
Eric S. Raymond, long time advocat of Linux and the GPL,
an interesting insight into the future of Open Source, related
licenses and the future users of Open Source at an event recently:
``Basically, we don't need GPL. It's based on the belief that open source
software is weak and needs to be protected. With it, we continue injuring
ourselves, cutting ourselves from the economic benefits of BSD license.''
I wonder what this means for the future - Linux moving to a different
license, people favouring BSD systems more, or a Great New License
that will make everyone (well, at least current GPL people :) more
happy. At least the number of growing number of licenses arising
recently seems to hint at the latter approach.
Flash: Better GPL than proprietary (Updated)
Maybe someone wants to help out at the GPLFlash
project, to get us a flash player that's available in source.
Sounds like something for Google's SummerOfCode...
Update: Eric Anholt wrote me to have a look at
swfdec which is
way farther along - they project has taken some major steps towards
flash 5/6/7 scripting support. pkgsrc, anyone? :)
[Tags: flash, licensing]
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