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]
21c3 Videos: NetBSD, pkgsrc, GPL (Updated)
Stefan Schumacher has pointed me at the videos from the
21st Chaos Communications Congress some time ago, but I only
managed to watch them today, as there's a small tweak to the
mplayer codecs.conf needed to watch them (or rather, listen to the
audio!). With that tweak, the following gems can be watched now:
Have fun with the videos, and if you can't hear any audio,
remember to tweak your codecs.conf! (Thanks to Tonnerre on #NetBSD/IRCnet
for the hint!)
- Stefan Schumacher's lightning talk on NetBSD
(AVI, torrent, slides)
- My talk on "Portable software installation on Linux, Solaris, NetBSD etc. using pkgsrc"
(AVI, torrent, slides, paper)
- My talk about "GPL für Anfänger" (GPL for beginners, german language)
(AVI, torrent, slides, paper)
Update: Thomas Klausner has updated pkgsrc/multimedia/mplayer-share
to not require a special codecs.conf file. Make sure you have
mplayer-share-1.0rc7nb1 installed to get the updated file!
[Tags: Events, gpl, licensing, pkgsrc]
T-Shirt with BSD License
Literally! As mentioned in the DragonFly BSD Digest: The BSDnewsletter
now offers a t-shirt
with the (original Berkeley) BSD license printed on it, which can
help as a conversion starter to tell about BSD and open source.
99% geek value! :)
[Tags: devotionalia, licensing, t-shirt]
PS2 game "XIII" by Ubisoft supposedly contains NetBSD code
As posted on DaemonNews:
``The PS2 game "XIII" by Ubisoft (game website here) includes NetBSD
Foundation license text in its instruction booklet. I suspect they're using
the TCP/IP stack for the online multiplayer feature.''
I don't have a flash player to look at the webpage, and a search
of both "BSD" and "NetBSD" doesn't bring up any results, but
given recent findings
it sounds entirely likely that the TCP/IP stack is used for the
online playing part of the game.
[Tags: licensing, Products]
Adobe releases source code under MIT license
While not directly NetBSD related, and not directly thrilling, the long
term result of this may be interesting: Adobe has
released two GUI libraries
under a MIT-style license. While all the world (still?) thinks that
the GPL is the best thing since sliced bread, they slowly seem to start
realizing that there are alternatives, and that the GPL may
not be that good for commercial
exploitation as thought first. Last but not least, the MIT-license
is about the same as the license from BSD and NetBSD.
[Tags: adobe, licensing]
Corporate reasons for BSD over GPL (Update 1)
I was asked on how to convince some decision makers at a (mostly?)
hardware company to 1) use BSD-code instead of GPL-code for the
start (i.e. use NetBSD over Linux) and 2) make them release the
code to the public after making changes. Here are my thoughts:
If you want to point at various other vendors who have choosen BSD,
and NetBSD in particular, to place their products on, see:
- A general consequence when putting code under the BSD license
or releasing new code based on existing BSD-licensed code is that
the code can be kept closed. E.g. when shipping hardware, there is
no need to add the source.
- In contrast, when you put new code under the GPL, or write code
based on a program released under the GPL, it is mandatory that you
release the full source of all your changes. Many big companies have
been bitten by this with Linux, see
to find that prominent companies like Siemens, ASUS, Sitecom,
Gigabyte and many others are affected and were sued over this
(apparently?) difficult to follow requirement of the GPL.
- When using BSD-licensed code as a base, it's your own choice if you
want to keep your changes private, of if you want to contribute them
back to the community. Contributing the source has both benefits and
drawbacks, which have to be considered.
- Drawbacks of opening the source are that competitors will have access
to your intellectual property. When using BSD-licensed code as a base
for your work, you can choose to keep your changes private. With
GPL, you have to open them up, if you want to or not.
- Benefits of releasing source to the bright public may have various
benefits usually found when arguing for Open Source: people can use the
code and base their works on it, the code can be audited by 3rd parties
for e.g. security reasons, etc.
- A particular benefit of releasing a work based on BSD-licensed code
again not (only) to the bright public but especially to the original
project is that the contributions can be incorporated into the project,
and get maintained by the project people.
- One of the goals of the NetBSD project is to offer a complete operating
system kernel available under the BSD license only. To integrate code
into NetBSD, and the kernel in particular, it has to be BSD licensed.
Integration into NetBSD (which of course requires releasing
the source) will lead to benefits from the efforts of the NetBSD
project, its community as well as the vendors supporting it.
[Tags: bsd, gpl, licensing]
Looking at Sun's new "Open Source" license
I was wondering if the much-rumored new Open Source license from Sun
-- called CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License) --
was compatible with the BSD license used in NetBSD.
After there was some discussion about the start of
OpenSolaris.org on slashdot, I had a look.
As to my understanding (IANAL!), the CDDL is similar in spirit to the GPL:
And as such, the CDDL doesn't seem to be compatible with the BSD license as
it enforces releasing of the source code (CDDL#3.1). Presence
of a viral component (CDDL#3.2) won't help to this either.
See also my posting on Slashdot about this.
- All source (changed and unchanged) must remain available under
the original license (GPL#2, CDDL#3.1)
- Any modification must happen under the original license (GPL#2b,
Digging deeper in the OpenSolaris.org Licensing FAQ,
there's apparently a way to release binaries under a different
license, plus the CDDL is file-based, so for mere integration of
CDDL-source into Larger Works, the modifications to the CDDL to
interface with the other code need to be published. Of course that
only helps as long as the CDDL doesn't need to get modified for that.
Relevant parts of the CDDL seem to be #1.9A-C for the "licensing
on a per-file" base. For the "release binaries under differenc license"
statement, #3.5 says that but also states that the new license must
not take away any rights that the CDDL grants, so I don't think
one can make a binary-only distribution without releasing (modified)
[Tags: cddl, licensing, sun]
"pkgsrc" is now an official trademark of The NetBSD Foundation
(well, may have been for a bit...).
[Tags: licensing, pkgsrc]
21c3, final day
First, I managed to put up the material for my two talks,
``GPL für Anfänger'' (slides,
``Easy Software Installation on Linux, Solaris, NetBSD etc. using pkgsrc''
paper). The papers
are also published in the conference proceedings (25MB PDF). I've also prepared
slides for a NetBSD lightning talk
which Stefan Schumacher held for me as my throat's still bad.
The third day of the congress didn't have many thrills, we closed
the booth at like 8pm and after some fine cow meat we went to
C-Base for hanging out.
I'd like to thank, in no particular order, the following people
for helping out at the booth:
and everyone I've forgotten!
[Tags: ccc, Events, licensing]
Making Linux s/GPL/BSD/ license for $50kUS?
Aparently some company offered to pay $50.000US for a version of the
Linux kernel source that's put under the BSD license instead of
the GPL (which allows re-licensing GPL'd code).
[Tags: gpl, licensing]
Copyright Infringement, the end(?)
Aparently the g4l author decided he'd rather abandon his project
instead of properly adjusting (back) his code after initially removing
my name and license. Too sad to see it happen people give such little
respect to copyright laws.
[Tags: g4u, licensing]
Copyright Infringement, cont'd
OK, apparently the author who removed my name, license and copyright
message from my sources admits his old code was "inspired" by my
source, but claims that the new version of his software was written
from scratch. Comparing the three versions (mine, his old, his new)
shows that this is not true -- please
compare yourself and
tell me what you think!
And just in case you wonder - the software in question on my side
is g4u, the ripoff and
copyright violation happened in
[Tags: g4u, licensing]
Handling Copyright/License Infringement?
OK, this isn't strictly about NetBSD, but about an (open source) product I
made, based on NetBSD, and released under a standard BSD license:
Today, I found out that someone took the core parts of said software,
adjusted it to run on Linux (not much to do - it was mostly shell
scripts), removed all traces of my name and license on the original
software, and instead put his own name in and put everything under the
I asked what's going on, and as a reply I was told that the scripts were
not based on mine - something rather easy to prove wrong when looking at
them (differences are mostly renamed variables, removal of my name; same
code structure, even in help messages, etc.).
Now my question is, how does one handle such infringement of copyright and
licensing? I don't have any money to bring this to court, nor would I
really want to... It's both open source projects, but is asking for credit
where credit is due too much? Can everyone steal intellectual property
today in the name of the GPL?
[Tags: g4u, licensing]
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