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Linux Wireless Driver Violates BSD License? 355

Posted by kdawson
from the put-it-back dept.
bsdphx writes "After years of encouragement from the OpenBSD community for others to use Reyk Floeter's free Atheros wireless driver, it seems that the Linux world is finally listening. Unfortunately, they seem to think that they can strip the BSD license right out of it."
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Linux Wireless Driver Violates BSD License?

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  • by Phil246 (803464) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:07AM (#20396561)
    Im suddenly reminded of this [slashdot.org], where linux gpl'd code found its way into BSD via a wireless driver.
    Those in glass houses shouldnt throw stones
  • Re:Strange (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ajehals (947354) <a.halsall@pirateparty.org.uk> on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:09AM (#20396567) Homepage Journal
    Replying to own post - I need reading comprehension lessons. They shouldn't have removed the permission bit. So yeah, its wrong.
  • Re:No, it doesn't. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MMC Monster (602931) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:30AM (#20396759)
    Not just that, but it appears that the original file was dual licensed to BSD and GPLv2.

    What exactly is this article about?
  • Re:Hmmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash (241428) * on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:31AM (#20396767) Homepage Journal

    Absolutely. This situation is unbelievable.

    A few months ago, a GPL'd Linux driver was incorporated into the mainline OpenBSD kernel tree (albeit some months before release, and largely non-working.) The Linux developers concerned contacted the OpenBSD team via the regular mailing list, Ccing some relevant Linux and legal people. The email was polite, more or less friendly, and constructive, offering help to the OpenBSD people to ensure the situation was resolved with both projects having a working driver at the end of the day.

    The OpenBSD team's response was to go nuclear. Theo called the Linux developers "inhuman". Many argued that the copyright violation was legitimate performing coding acrobatics to pretend that real, copyrighted, code was never being distributed under the BSD license; others argued this proved the superiority of the BSD license because if it had been the other way around, the OpenBSD team would never have objected, given the BSD license allows you to do (apparently) anything, whereas the GPL prevents use in closed systems.

    Well, what a bunch of, frankly, hypocritical two-faced liars. The OpenBSD team's response to an apparent BSD license violation (which we were assured would never happen, because the BSD license is so liberal) is to directly accuse the Linux developers of copyright infringement. Rather than involve appropriate mailing lists and relevant people, the complaint is made on the public Undeadly.org website. Rather than offer help, the OpenBSD developers just spit blood. And none acknowledge that the copyright infringement hasn't even happened yet, that is to say, the proposed code is a patch that has yet to be accepted into the mainline kernels.

    This is the second time the OpenBSD team have owed Linux developers an apology, and I bet it's the second time we're not going to hear one, instead hearing the same self-righteous fraudulent apologetics we hear one.

    OpenBSD developers have time and time again claimed "moral superiority" over GNU and Linux due to their adoption of a license that allows code to be used in closed projects. It always was a specious argument, but it's looking all the more absurd today.

  • Re:No, it doesn't. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jimstapleton (999106) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:33AM (#20396779) Journal
    actually, most of them don't have him as the copyright holder.

    Looks more like some yutz decided that he didn't like the BSD licence and went in and changed all the licences to GPLv2, in the files, and didn't do anything else.

    Honestly, I can't complain, as long as the copyright notices are kept, and unchanged, it is acceptable (someone posted thsi further down).

    Nonetheless, someone going in, and doing nothing but removing the BSD licencing on every file (or at least the first 4 or 5, I didn't look through the whole thing), and replcaing it with "this code is now under GPLv2", seems somewhat childish, more like a tantrum than anything else.

  • Re:Strange (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eivind Eklund (5161) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:37AM (#20396827) Journal

    The original BSD vaersion is still out there.

    Just like it would if the code was taken properitary.

    It's a bit rich to deny people to keep their own changes proprietary, wouldn't you say?

    Except that's what the GPL tries to do. It's removing freedom.

    And that's what many of us BSDers are against. We want our software to keep freedom. Including the freedom of future developers to keep their own changes private, or get paid for them. Thereby, we also allow the end users the freedom to buy those changes - a freedom they wouldn't have if the code was GPLed, because the incentive to make the changes wouldn't be there.

    As an example, we have Apples operating system, partially made on code I wrote. And I'm a very happy user of it, even though I (or rather, my employer) had to pay for the extra stuff Apple has added. The ability to do so is a freedom I have partially gotten from having released my software under the BSD license.

    Eivind.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:48AM (#20396919)
    The BSD and GPL communities are two groups with much in common and some differences. That's especially true of the OpenBSD people who are very much committed to freedom for their software (and just disagree with the GPL people about how that is best defined). This kind of article is about trying to set up atificial disagreements between those communities so that they don't cooperate well. I write copyleft software and content (GPL/GFDL/CC-SA) but I would mostly relicence it if an important project like OpenBSD or X.org asked for it. I would make that decision based on the value of the project. If I feel that a project is harmful overall then I probably wouldn't.

    The trick is that we have to not be divided and work together sensibly.
  • by Mathinker (909784) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:58AM (#20397025) Journal
    > OpenBSD developers have time and time again claimed "moral superiority" over GNU and Linux due to their adoption
    > of a license that allows code to be used in closed projects. It always was a specious argument, but it's looking
    > all the more absurd today.

    Doesn't this always tend to happen with organized religion? The "our ideology is better/truer/stronger than yours so we are superior and can condescend/oppress/forcibly convert" syndrome?

    (Flashes on the surrealistic scene of the Romans watching RMS fight Theo de Raadt in the Colosseum...)
  • Re:Welll (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Phil246 (803464) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:59AM (#20397029)
    If you dont want to be modded as troll, dont refer to things in unnecessarily derogatory terms such as "linuzzz"
    I fully agree with the mods decision to mark you as a troll on that basis.

    Programming for windows is subject to the same legal worries as far as licenses are concerned, dont kid yourself that its only an open source issue.

    Yes, you need to put thought into any license you release things under - Does it suit your requirements for one?
    If not, thats the wrong license to use - and theres nothing stopping you from defining a license of your own which does meet them
  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:01AM (#20397061) Homepage Journal

    The trick is that we have to not be divided and work together sensibly.
    Mod parent up +5, Insightful!

    I myself write mostly copyleft software, but if the OpenBSD or any other important project asked for it to be relicensed under BSD, I would certainly dual-license the software.

    All of this senseless bickering is pointless. We as open source and free software developers have most of our goals in common. Let's pool our resources here and work together towards those common goals rather than having all of this stupid infighting.

    You all need to realize that this is exactly what Microsoft and other companies that would like to see us shut up want. Keep us divided, keep us fighting because, and this is going to sound cliche -- but it's truee -- united we stand, divided we fall.

  • by PinkPanther (42194) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:19AM (#20397239)

    [OpenBSD people] just disagree with the GPL people about how that is best defined

    It isn't so much a disagreement about how "free" is defined; it is more about who the target of "free" is. The BSD-style folks focus on programmers; the GPL-style folks future end-users. Both want the code to be "free" (can do whatever they desire with the code) to their target.

  • Re:Hmmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MysteriousPreacher (702266) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:19AM (#20397241) Journal
    OpenBSD developers have time and time again claimed "moral superiority" over GNU and Linux due to their adoption of a license that allows code to be used in closed projects. It always was a specious argument, but it's looking all the more absurd today.

    Claiming any particular licence (BSD/GPL) to be superior is like asserting that cars are superior to helicopters. In far too many cases, the licences are dragged in to try to justify a bad argument, and the fault lies with both camps. GNU and BSD zealots alike adopt Talibanesque positions that do nothing but harm to the community.

    This story should have been a simple clear-cut case it weren't for a small rabble-rousing group. Funnily enough, Theo posted a fairly decent and non-inflamatory respones in the early discussions. This is in stark contrast to the earlier GPL case (mentioned in your post) where his reaction was indefensible.

    Incidentally, the BSD licence infringement has already taken place. That happened as soon as the author distributed the code with the licence stripped from it. Doesn't matter whether or not it hit a main-stream kernel. As soon as he made it available to others, distribution kicked-in. That said, the author has a case to answer for but certainly not the entire Linux community the "OMG LINUX STOLE OUR CODE!" crowd would have us think.
  • Re:No, it doesn't. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Svartalf (2997) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:22AM (#20397285) Homepage
    And even more hilarious is that the **ORIGINAL AUTHOR** did it in the first place.

    It's about Theo and company getting their panties in a wad over any percieved "stealing" of their
    codebase from the OpenBSD tree and relicensing it under the GPL. What the dummies didn't get
    was that the contribution and re-release of the code was under the GPL V2 by the original author
    which has the right to do whatever he damn well pleases with it if he's not breaching the Copyrights
    of other contributors to a given piece in the process of relicensing it.

    If the original author did this, Theo and company need to put a brown paper bag over their heads...
  • Re:No, it doesn't. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ACNiel (604673) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:32AM (#20397423)
    You missed the whole point.

    Does Jiri Slaby have the right to change the license on Reyk Floeter's code?

    We don't care about whether the license on the patch itself was changed, but the license from the code he borrowed.
  • Re:Dual licensed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moranar (632206) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:33AM (#20397427) Homepage Journal
    I'll try to explain to the best of my understanding, and someone will likely correct me if I'm wrong. Disclaimer: I am not a kernel dev nor a lawyer, just an amateur coder.

    It is possible to dual-license a piece of code. In the case of this kind of stuff, the BSD license is much more permissive than the GPL as to what you can do with the code, so one could arguably take the piece of software under the BSD license and "close" it, developing proprietary software on top of it.

    As the new code is a derivative work, and the new modifications are under GPL v2 (something which is possible as long as you maintain the original caveats along with the original code), those aren't easily appropriated, and become "viral". If one sought to extend that piece of software, he would have to do it under the GPL terms, or find the original code in OpenBSD and fork from that.

    Luis R. Rodriguez in the LKML seems to imply (this is the part I'm not certain about) that for all practical purposes, dual-licensing in this case -and all other similar cases inside the kernel- means "GPL v2 licensing", since the GPL is by far more restrictive on what you can do with the code. This interpretation would be important if the linux kernel code evolved further than the OpenBSD code, since one would rather use the former than the latter, and thus the issue would arise. Otherwise, it would be much safer just to use the BSD-licensed code.
  • by Svartalf (2997) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:36AM (#20397455) Homepage
    Theo and Company happen to be VERY obnoxious at times. This would be one of them.

    They were guilty of the very thing they're accusing the Linux crowd of back a while
    back and the Linux crowd handled it rather nicely and helpfully, but Theo went ballistic
    and basically got all bent out of shape indicating that they weren't really violating
    the GPL licensing on a kernel driver (they were, but...) and so forth.

    Now, we see a percieved violation being "observed" by Theo and Company
    and in reality, the people in the discussion thread all bent out of shape over it weren't
    paying close attention. The original author did the change- which is legit all the way
    around.

    This isn't about dividing BSD and Linux. This is about Theo and some of the OpenBSD
    crowd being a little more mouthy than usual and simply going off half-cocked.

    Nothing new here- move along.
  • Re:Hmmmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:44AM (#20397573)
    FWIW - I took the initial GPL -> BSD flamewar as being more of an 'OMG OpenBSD Stole Our Code'

    which is why theo got pissed if you read the whole thread - he didn't like that the
    driver developer posted to the whole list & cc'ed legal people instead of just writing
    the actual committer directly and working it out between them,

    The inflammitory attitude, in his eyes, was the approach taken in reporting the violation,
    and he in his thoughts responded in kind. so in that sense a calm response here would be consistent
    with what he sees is the way to go about things..
  • by cbreaker (561297) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:19AM (#20398095) Journal
    I guess, but I think that it's because of the GPL that we're even talking about open source software in 2007.
  • Re:Strange (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bentcd (690786) <bcd@pvv.org> on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:47AM (#20398489) Homepage

    Except that's what the GPL tries to do. It's removing freedom.
    And that's what many of us BSDers are against. We want our software to keep freedom.
    Freedom isn't binary, nor can it easily be discussed without qualifiers. In this case, BSD is a case of the developer saying "I want freedom, I want it for myself, and who cares what everyone else does with it" whileas GPL is a case of the developer saying "I want freedom, I want it to rest with the end user of my software and never mind if that causes me some inconvenience in the process". They are different kinds of freedom, resting in different parts of the software ecosystem.
  • by CDarklock (869868) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @11:00AM (#20398691) Homepage Journal
    > It's a pretty pathetic thing to do, cutting off the source
    > from any usefull changes, but perfectly legal nonetheless.

    As a pro-BSD and anti-GPL guy, I don't like this either, but I think it's instructive.

    First, I think it demonstrates the double standard going on in the license battle. The BSD license is explicitly supposed to allow this, and their reaction simply shows that they aren't so dedicated to the spirit of the license as they like to pretend.

    Second, I think it ultimately demonstrates the failures of the GPL. Now that the driver is under GPL, enhancements made to the BSD-licensed version don't automatically propagate to it; they have to be manually incorporated. The converse applies; the GPL modifications don't propagate to the BSD version without manual incorporation, and since that incorporation would carry the GPL, it won't happen. This is effectively a code fork, and as ESR has quite rightly pointed out (thought not in so few words) "code forks are bad". Clearly, the GPL community has not historically done so well on a wireless driver, so I'd bet the BSD version is eventually going to eclipse the GPL version. This evidences the simple fact that the GPL doesn't attract high-quality developers as readily as a BSD licensed project does.

    I don't think the code is cut off from useful changes; I think it's actually a good idea to do this kind of apples and apples comparison of the two licenses. Which version ultimately wins and why? I'm betting on BSD, because I think experienced professional developers - the kind most qualified to enhance and extend a wireless driver - dislike the GPL and will avoid it when possible.
  • by rossifer (581396) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @11:39AM (#20399347) Journal

    The same could definitely be said about Linus and the Linux crowd as well. I seem to remember the Linux boosters getting very upset about a similar problem with code being taken improperly. As I recall, it was somewhat different, but I don't recall anybody at the time suggested that Linus and the boosters were mouthier than usual.
    You don't remember that because the GPL copyright holders attempted to resolve the issue quietly and without huge dramatics (Linus didn't become involved until very late in the game).

    And it is quite reasonable for them to complain that the BSD license was explicitly stripped from the source without permission.
    Except that it's the author and copyright holder who did it, and he's allowed to do what he likes with his copyrighted works.
  • They are mainly accusing him of ripping out the BSD license from a couple .h files since they didn't have the dual-license notice in them. If they aren't dual-licensed under both, you can relicense as GPLv2, but you have to include the BSD notice under its own terms.
    DISCLAIMER: IANAL

    Actually, so far as I am aware, header files cannot be copyrighted (at least in the U.S.), so the licensing of them, and thus the complaint, is moot (at least in the U.S.).

    This is one point I remember from the SCO v. IBM litigation. SCO was accusing IBM of having included the ELF header files in Linux; however, it as pointed out on Groklaw that header files are not copyrightable, so it was not a valid accusation; or something along those lines.

    Some info from Groklaw:

    Headers brings to mind a few more principles: [groklaw.net]
    • Material that is dictated by the compatibility requirements of other programs with which it is designed to interact is unprotectable....
    • Material that is dictated by programming standards is unprotectable....
    • Material that is dictated by standard programming practices is unprotectable....
    • Material that is dictated by computer hardware design standards is unprotectable....
    • Material that is dictated by the practices and/or demands of the industry being serviced is unprotectable.
    (formatting added)
    Any how...IANAL - so check with one that is to know for sure; but that's my thought. Take it with a grain of salt.
  • Re:Hmmmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:38PM (#20400279)
    splatter GPL-gizm all over it

    Hey you may not like the guy, and he may very well be an ass, but I gotta admit, that's pretty goddam funny.
  • by Egdiroh (1086111) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:42PM (#20400343)
    It's not 2 schools of thought, it's 3.

    1) BSD: This is good code, we want people to be able to use it, maybe it will work to our advantage, and we want the copyright to stay clear so people who modify our code can't accidentally claim copyright and sue others who started with our code.
    2) FSF: The end user should be able to hack their devices we'll tempt device manufacturers with good code whose license requires the manufacturer to keep the device and code open.
    3) Linus?: I want the best code available for people to use, which means giving away my code, but also getting the improvements of others back.
  • Re:Strange (Score:2, Insightful)

    by abe ferlman (205607) <bgtrio@ya h o o . com> on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:44PM (#20400367) Homepage Journal
    Must we do this silly dance again?

    BSD preserves the right to restrict freedoms plus all the other rights GPL preserves.

    GPL restricts the right to restrict freedoms, and otherwise preserves the same rights as BSD.

    In other words, the only freedom GPL takes away is the ability to restrict the freedoms of others.

    Arguing that we should have the freedom to restrict everyone else's freedom is like arguing that we should tolerate intolerance or else we ourselves are intolerant. It's sophistry that pays no mind whatever to the content of the question.

  • Re:No, it doesn't. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @01:43PM (#20401229) Journal

    And even more hilarious is that the **ORIGINAL AUTHOR** did it in the first place.
    Depends what you mean by 'original'. This is the author of the Linux kernel module, which is a derived work of the OpenBSD driver by Reyk Floeter.
  • Re:No, it doesn't. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by peacefinder (469349) <alan@dewitt.gmail@com> on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @01:59PM (#20401479) Journal
    I suspect folks are making a big deal out of it because of a recent brouhaha in which an OpenBSD developer mistakenly made GPL-code available in a BSD-licensed CVS tree. OpenBSD acknowledged and fixed the problem really quickly, but there was still a big stink about it and how it was handled that left bad feelings on both sides.

    Now a Linux developer has been seen doing something that at first glance looks worse, so I suppose we can expect another flamewar even if it turns out to be no big deal.
  • by Thomas Charron (1485) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {elffawt}> on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @02:26PM (#20401917) Homepage
    I am not sure why there is confusion. The original code was available under EITHER the BSD license, and the GPL license. They have decided to use the GPL license, which does not bind them to the BSD license.

        So they removed mention. The provided the code back, under the gplv2, which the original authors could then include into theirs.

        AVAILABLE under dual license doesn't mean you accept both. They abided by the terms of the GPL.
  • Re:No, it doesn't. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Thomas Charron (1485) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {elffawt}> on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @02:40PM (#20402191) Homepage
    In a long list of corrections, he did NOT change the license. He was using the code UNDER the GPL, and released his changes, per the GPL requirement.

    Bad tact perhaps, but not a violation.

    What exactly would be the point of using the GPL *AND* the BSD license together? Then you'd just use BSD, right?
  • Re:Strange (Score:3, Insightful)

    by abe ferlman (205607) <bgtrio@ya h o o . com> on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @04:18PM (#20403645) Homepage Journal
    What? Disclaim all rights to their code? I'm no lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that's not what the GPL says.
  • A patch to existing code would be considered a derivative work.
    Correct.

    Derivative works all belong to the original copyright owner. No matter who wrote them.
    Only partially correct. Derivative works belong to both the original copyright owner AND the author of the derivative work. I can take BSD-licensed code, hack it however I like, and release the result as a proprietary application, as long as I give proper attribution as required under the BSD license. Doing so does NOT give the authors of the BSD code the right to use my derivative code for free; they'd have to buy it from me at whatever price I set (if I choose to offer it for sale). Although I have to comply with their license in order to use their code in this way, they don't own the result.

    This is what keeps someone from trying to add in a patch that has a different license from original GPL work.
    By submitting a patch, you're implicitly granting a license for your code to be included with the project, under the same license(s) as the rest of the project, but you still hold the copyright on your code. Some projects have legal wording to clarify their policy on accepting patches, but this is how things are generally understood to work.

    The original licensee does not allow it.
    The inclusion of BSD-licensed code in GPL-licensed software is perfectly fine, as long as the conditions of the BSD license are met. In this case, it sounds like the conditions of the BSD license may not have been met. The author of most of the driver took the whole thing (including patches owned by other people and licensed under the BSD license), and tried to relicense the whole thing under GPLv2 without dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's. The idea of what he was trying to do is totally OK, but a couple of details may not have been handled correctly and might need to be fixed.

    Doing the same thing in the other direction (including GPL-licensed code in a BSD-licensed project) is a no-no, by the way. The GPL has additional requirements that the BSD license doesn't satisfy.
  • Re:No, it doesn't. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by julesh (229690) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @04:45PM (#20404029)
    IT ISN'T BSD LICENSED SOURCE.

    The BSD project has it available under EITHER license. EITHER/OR.


    This isn't exactly true, though. Some of the files are available under a dual license. Others, it seems, aren't.

    Look at the copyright notice being removed from, e.g., ath5k_hw.c:

        * Copyright (c) 2006-2007 Nick Kossifidis
        * Copyright (c) 2007 Jiri Slaby
        *
    - * 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.
    - *

    No mention of a GPL dual license in there.
  • Re:No, it doesn't. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kartoffel (30238) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @04:47PM (#20404065)
    I prefer fries, but if someone asks me to pass the menu, I shouldn't cross out mashed potatoes before doing so.

    Yes! That's the issue exactly (well, analogously). The original software permitted either license. Jiri removed all the BSD bits, including the copyrights of the other contributors. Jiri's kernal submission is an attempt at an exclusively GPL fork. This fork is indistinguishable in name from the original BSD-licensed code. IMHO, if you're going to fork something, at least give it a different name so that you can tell the difference.

    There are now, effectively, two different branches: The BSD branch, from which future changes may be freely merged to the GPL-only branch; and the potentially illicit GPL-only branch. Changes submitted directly to the GPL-only branch are doomed to be stuck there forevermore, per the restrictions of the GPL. How are developers to know which branch is which when they have the same name? Furthermore, this fork will balkanize future development, forcing developers to choose whether they wish to submit patches only to the GPL fork, or to both (by way of submitting first to the BSD branch).

    Fundamentally, the problem seems to be that you can't logically have something be *both* GPL and BSD. Draw a Venn diagram. The GPL forbids free reuse in source or binary form. BSD forbids ripping out the copyright notice of the contributors.
  • slight of mind (Score:3, Insightful)

    by epine (68316) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @06:47PM (#20405473)

    The GPL is "more free" than the BSD because the only thing it restricts is the kind of restrictions that can be put on the code. Its restrictions are much like the restrictions found in the bill of rights, they ensure no one can take your freedom. Now tell me, is the US more or less free with the 1st amendment?


    Well, now, that's a truly fabulous slight-of-mind. Kudos. But tell me, is 1st amendment a reference to first post? Under this theory of law, you really want to get there first.

    The GPL actually functions like a 1st amendment which states that America grants certain rights to Americans (some in the guise of restrictions on restrictions), and we're going to bomb any country which doesn't follow suit back to the stone age.

    Tell me, wouldn't the 1st amendment be better if it was more honest about the carpet bombing of contrary views back to the stone age? Subject only to available funds?

    I admire the GPL empire, but personally I choose not to live there. I think the GPL is the right choice for systems and the wrong choice for technologies. If I invented a new network protocol (Internet 3, since Internet 2 is already registered) I would license the implementation under BSD, and the compliance suite under GPL. A protocol is worthless if people don't steal enough of the original code to make everything work together. Likewise, the protocol is worthless if people Balkanize compliance with the edge cases. I see two different purposes, and two different licences with respect to those purposes, neither of which involves any recursive viral calculus to comprehend.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2007 @08:04AM (#20409747)
    List: openbsd-misc
    Subject: Re: Linux Driver Violates BSD License
    From: "Constantine A. Murenin" [...]
    BTW, since this is misc@openbsd.org, people might be interested to
    know about the history of the licensing terms of ath(4) in OpenBSD.

    OpenBSD's ath(4) consists of two parts:
    1. a driver, copyrighted by Sam Leffler of FreeBSD
    2. a HAL, copyrighted by Reyk Floeter of OpenBSD

    What Theo explained above concerns the OpenHAL code. OpenHAL is the
    Linux name for madwifi driver connected with reyk's entirely free and
    open source ath(4) HAL code.

    Sam originally put a dual BSD/GPL licence onto his driver code.
    Reyk always put a BSD-style licence onto his HAL code.

    At the time OpenHAL was forked from OpenBSD, OpenBSD's ath(4)
    _driver_, but _not the HAL_, was dual licensed.

    As already mentioned, OpenBSD's ath(4) HAL, written by Reyk, was
    _never_ dual licensed. See the history on /sys/dev/ic/{ar52{10,11,12}{.c,{reg,var}.h},ar5xxx .{c,h}}.
    http://www.openbsd.org/cgi-bin/cvsweb/src/sys/dev/ ic/#ar5210.c [openbsd.org]

    Few months ago, Sam changed the licence of _his_ code to a 2-clause
    BSD licence. Sam had every right to do so, because he was and is the
    only copyright holder of that code, as the licence header of the
    driver file indicates, in FreeBSD, OpenBSD etc.

    http://www.freebsd.org/cgi/cvsweb.cgi/src/sys/dev/ ath/if_ath.c#rev1.170 [freebsd.org]
    http://www.freshbsd.org/2007/06/06?project=freebsd &committer=sam [freshbsd.org]

    Reyk committed Sam's changes to OpenBSD the same day, so now,
    OpenBSD's ath(4) is _entirely_ BSD-licensed, with no alternative
    licensing available.

    http://www.openbsd.org/cgi-bin/cvsweb/src/sys/dev/ ic/ath.c#rev1.64 [openbsd.org]
    http://www.freshbsd.org/2007/06/06?project=openbsd &committer=reyk [freshbsd.org]

    However, what Jiri Slaby does in his diff is simply outrageous. He
    changes the licensing terms of the code _he does not own_ _at his own
    will_. A clear copyright violation.

    As I can see from that diff on LKML, Jiri Slaby doesn't even have his
    name as the copyright holder in many of the ath5k files that he tries
    to change the licensing terms of. In other files, he is not the only
    author, so he can't change the terms unless _all_ other copyright
    holders agree to the new terms.
    I'm very upset that certain people think they can get away with such a
    blatant disrespect of the copyright law. I trust that this violation
    won't be left unnoticed.

    What I personally don't understand, however, is that if Jiri Slaby
    thinks that he can simply change the licence of someone's code without
    explicit agreement of that someone, then why on earth does he think
    that changing the licence to a more restrictive one will offer him any
    protections, as, presumably following his logic, other people could
    later change the licence to whatever they feel like, in the very same
    illegal manner as he did in the first place. IMHO, that is the real
    question that he has to answer.

    Constantine.

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