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

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:01AM (#20396523) Homepage Journal
    It appears that someone's submitted a patch to the LKML that wrongly strips the BSD atheros driver of its license - a clear violation of copyright.

    However, until it's in Linus's tree (or even the MM tree), the violation is not by "linux", but the contributor, Jiri Slaby. [blogspot.com]

    Anyway, thanks to the OpenBSD team for these great drivers. Thanks to the Linux team for including them (under the correct license).
    • Re:No, it doesn't. (Score:4, Informative)

      by phoebe (196531) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:15AM (#20396621)

      It appears that someone's submitted a patch to the LKML that wrongly strips the BSD atheros driver of its license - a clear violation of copyright.

      The contributor being the author of the wireless module makes this article a bit short on common sense.

      First check the author of the patch, its Jiri Slaby.

      Subject [PATCH 4/5] Net: ath5k, license is GPLv2
      From Jiri Slaby <>
      Date Tue, 28 Aug 2007 12:00:50 -0400
      Digg This

      ath5k, license is GPLv2

      The files are available only under GPLv2 since now.

      Signed-off-by: Jiri Slaby

      Then check the copyright notice on top of the source files, there is a copyright to ... Jiri Slaby.

      +++ b/drivers/net/wireless/ath5k_base.c
      @@ -4,25 +4,9 @@
      * Copyright (c) 2007 Jiri Slaby
      * All rights reserved.

      So an author changed the license of his own code, hit the presses!

      • 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: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          What exactly is this article about?

          You've visited the site, contributed to the discussion, presumably loaded the ads on the page, had your visit logged by Google... so what the fcuk do you care? Mind your own business web boy! (and please come again).
        • 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.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            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 Micr

          • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Egdiroh (1086111)
              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 f
            • by einhverfr (238914) <chris.travers@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @05:21PM (#20404525) Homepage Journal
              I think the difference is how freedom is best preserved. In a BSDL community, you encourage everyone to contribute because it benefits them and everyone else by doing so, and it hurts them not to contribute. This works becasue if one doesn't contribute back then it becomes prohibitive to upgrade to the latest version fairly quickly, but if one does contribute then everyone else can supply patches and improvements. Furtermore, if two people create a different fix to the same problem and only one contributes the patch, the person who didn't gets screwed, especially if their version is better since now they have to maintain the difference or lose functionality.

              BSD uses economics to protect freedom. GPL tries to use the force of law.

              Generally I prefer the BSD approach but tend to feel safer with the GPL :-)
          • 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 th
            • 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.

              And it is quite reasonable for them to complain that the BSD license was explicitly stripped from the source without permission. It would be an oversight if it was just violate the
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by rossifer (581396)

                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 gam

                • by StormReaver (59959) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:47PM (#20400419)
                  "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."

                  The submitter wrote some of the driver, but there are a few other names in the Copyright list. There is no information in the article indicating their (dis)approval.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Svartalf (2997)
          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
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by TheRaven64 (641858)

            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.
        • by kestasjk (933987) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @03:28PM (#20402887) Homepage
          Linux users think Abraham was ordered to sacrifice Linus as a burnt offering, GNU users think Abraham was ordered to sacrifice Stallman as a burnt offering. Linux users believe in the holy trinity of GNU/Linux/NvidiaBlobs, BSD users believe in the one and only UNIX. Linux users are fine with Tux toys and stickers, BSD users believe in no graven images. Linux users are subdivided into those that argue about interpretations of freedom and whether the establishment is corrupt, BSD users are subdivided according to which BSD is the true descendant of UNIX(pbuh).
      • 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.

        • by dysprosia (661648)
          No, you need to include the permission notice too on BSD licensed source as well as the copyright. Those have been uniformly stripped out of BSD-only licensed code, which violates the license.
      • Re:No, it doesn't. (Score:5, Informative)

        by kernelpanicked (882802) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:01AM (#20397071)
        Wrong! But thanks for playing. I see you convinced the greater slashdot horde to give you a few mod points for your wrong answer, congrats. The correct answer is the code is copyrighted 2004-2007 Reyk Floeter 2006-2007 Nick Kossifidis. This is a clear case of someone grabbing BSD code, stripping and replacing the license with the GPL, and submitting it as a patch to the mainline kernel.
        • Re:No, it doesn't. (Score:4, Informative)

          by uglydog (944971) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:10AM (#20397159)
          But what about the lines that say

          - * Alternatively, this software may be distributed under the terms of the
          - * GNU General Public License ("GPL") version 2 as published by the Free
          - * Software Foundation.
          - *
          + * This file is released under GPLv2
          Doesn't that mean the the second person is opting to distribute under GPLv2? And the copyright notices are intact.

          * Copyright (c) 2004-2007 Reyk Floeter
          * Copyright (c) 2006-2007 Nick Kossifidis
          *
        • Re:No, it doesn't. (Score:4, Informative)

          by stevew (4845) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:55AM (#20397733) Journal
          Correct as far as you went - but did you bother to look at the followups???

          Several people basically said Nope - can't do that. How about dual licensing?

          The author replied - yes please, I'm away from my system right now - could someone do that.

          (the above paraphrased..)

          So in my mind - someone made a mistake, others pointed it out, and the original author asked for it to be corrected in the suggested manner.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Ed Avis (5917)

        So an author changed the license of his own code, hit the presses!

        Nope... check the first patch that appears in the article:

        @@ -2,17 +2,7 @@
        * Copyright (c) 2004-2007 Reyk Floeter
        * Copyright (c) 2006-2007 Nick Kossifidis
        *
        - * 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

      • by OttoM (467655)
        The diff show only part of the files. Jiri Slaby is not the sole copyrightjholder, so he cannot change the license without agreement of the other authors.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ACNiel (604673)
        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:No, it doesn't. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:21AM (#20396679) Homepage
      Exactly,

      I don't even know why this is news, Until Linus accepts it, it's some random patch submitted to the tree, tons of those are rejected daily.

      The entire story and Slashdot submission is plain old FUD. if it was accepted and part of a new kernel tree I can see the story, but right now it's absolutely nothing but some random guy changed. Are we going to start getting stories submitted about what someone says on their blog now?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by peacefinder (469349)
      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.
  • Hmmmm (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by S.O.B. (136083)
    That pot and kettle are here somewhere...
    • 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.

      • > 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 RM
      • by mobby_6kl (668092)
        Moral of the story: don't fuck with Theo.
      • 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.
        • 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.

          Good catch. This is, I believe, correct, and if I could re-edit my post I

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          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 c
        • Re:Hmmmm (Score:4, Informative)

          by Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @11:01AM (#20398711)

          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.

          Really? Because this is what I read from Theo [undeadly.org]: It boggles the mind. One writes legal text which says "You may not delete this", and their approach is to delete it, and splatter GPL-gizm all over it. "Screw the everyone and theirlaws, we are GNU...". He sounds like an ass to me regardless of who's right or wrong.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            I'll concede that point, I think I was in a strangely mellow mood when I originally posted. I can understand Theo's frustration, consdidering how simple the BSD licence is, but I certainly don't see the "OMG" approach as anything but a last restort.
  • Strange (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ajehals (947354) <a.halsall@pirateparty.org.uk> on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:06AM (#20396557) Homepage Journal
    The License says:

    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.
    Granted that section has been removed but the copyright notices referred to:

    * Copyright (c) 2004-2007 Reyk Floeter
        * Copyright (c) 2006-2007 Nick Kossifidis
    Are still there, it is then shown to have been newly licensed under the GPL (Which you can do with the BSD as I understand it, you could re-license a derivative or even the original code as you wish).

    Personally I would have left in some detail to show that the code was initially issued under the BSD, I would find that meets with my own moral requirements, I would also include a link to the place the BSD code originated, but there is no requirement to do so. That is the difference between the BSD and the GPL, Previously this code could have been closed (and If BSD versions were lost then it would remain closed) under the GPL it now cannot be closed.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I read the diff correctly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ajehals (947354)
      Replying to own post - I need reading comprehension lessons. They shouldn't have removed the permission bit. So yeah, its wrong.
    • Re:Strange (Score:4, Informative)

      by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:13AM (#20396589) Homepage Journal
      The following was removed from the license:

      * 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.
      That sentence is pretty clear. Not all BSD code can be relicensed.

      Let me remind you however, that this was the work of an individual who posted to a public mailing list. It hasn't been accepted into Linus's or Morton's tree.
      • by 49152 (690909)
        It appears (from above postings) that the one who submitted the patch is the same person that originally wrote the code in question.

        If this is correct then there is no problem here at all and the article is totally meaningless.

        An author is allowed by copyright law to relicense his work at any time, of course the versions distributed with the BSD license would still be valid to use. Effectively this means there now is two versions of this code with different licenses.
      • "Alternatively, this software may be distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License". So it certainly appears that you can choose between distributing it and keeping the notice intact, or distributing it under the GPL. Now it may be that not all the files say that, or that you have to keep the notice anyway, or there's some other complication, but on the face of it it may be that the person who removed the notices thought they were allowed to.
        • by Simon80 (874052)
          In the first patch stanza, a permission blurb that makes no mention of the GPL is replaced, and the copyright holder is not Jiri Slaby (i.e. he is removing the license blurb from someone else's code). Also, even with the code that is dual licensed, I don't think it's ok to remove the license specification (one would simply leave it in). IANAL, but it seems that in the case where half a file is new code, the author should add more description saying that some of the code in the file is BSD licensed, but the
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ajehals (947354)
      really really bad form to reply again to my on post (but since when has that stopped me..), but reading further there is this:

      - * Alternatively, this software may be distributed under the terms of the
      - * GNU General Public License ("GPL") version 2 as published by the Free
      - * Software Foundation.

      Not sure what should apply now, although in spirit releasing it under the GPL with the original author listed as copyright holder seems OK in spirit and probably OK legally too.. (IANAL)

    • The main gripe the Free Software Foundation is that its practically impossable to violate.
      Witness Microsofts hijacking of the BSD Sockets library and Kerebros security library and protocol.

      So its a little bit rich to complain about replacing a license which states "you can do anything you want " with a license which state "you can do anything you want except steal the copyright".

      Besides all that is really GPL2ed is the very few mods in this particular distribution.
      The original BSD vaersion is still out ther
      • 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.

        • 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.
      • It's a bit more than that. He removed the BSD licence text, thus illegally changing the licence.

        It's no different to me taking a GPL'ed project and changing it to a BSD licence. My goal is noble in that I think everyone should have the right to steal but that doesn't change the fact that I'm going against the wishes of the author, and breaking the law in the process. It doesn't matter that the BSD version is still out there any more than it would if there was still a GPL'ed version of the Linux kernel float
    • Mod parent up! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Eivind Eklund (5161) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:23AM (#20396705) Journal
      Parent has insightfully noticed his own error. And the error is modded up. So mod the parent up.

      The move is clearly against the BSD license. (Also, combining GPLv2ed code and BSDed code is subtly against the GPL, as the requirement to reproduce the license - as shown and violated here - is an extra requirement compared to the GPL, violating the "no additional restrictions" clause of the GPL.)

      Eivind.

      • The move is clearly against the BSD license. (Also, combining GPLv2ed code and BSDed code is subtly against the GPL, as the requirement to reproduce the license - as shown and violated here - is an extra requirement compared to the GPL, violating the "no additional restrictions" clause of the GPL.)

        If so, seems like one that should be removed. I think an exception would be fair for other infinitely redistributable licenses, or a 'restriction' that consists solely of a copyright notice that in no other way

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Eivind Eklund (5161)
          Giving an exception seems within the spirit of the GPL. Reproducing the copyrights/licenses is actually onerous in many cases, but it doesn't usually interfere much with the end user's ability to change and redistribute the code as source, which is what the GPL seems to mostly be concerned about.

          Personally, I would probably add another GPL poison pill to whatever I released after that, though - to require people to actually contact me and have the code relicensed if they want to hack around with the GPL.

      • by NekoXP (67564)
        I was always curious about this one. Since the GPL has the 'restriction' that you must duplicate and advertise license under the GPL at every opportunity, in every source file, help text and document associated, how is putting the BSD license in the same code an 'extra restriction'?

        It is at least in the SPIRIT of the GPL - be sure to tell/remind everyone how it is licensed and inform them of their rights and privileges. If you are not allowed to print the BSD license in GPL code because "it's an extra restr
        • by Ajehals (947354)
          To answer your question, its not a restriction. The problem is that it is then unclear as to how the file is licensed, more to the point, if I were issued a program with two separate licenses included I would assume I could use either and would choose whichever I deemed more useful (although I would take legal advice first..). That hampers the GPL's intent to restrict what can be done with the code, in this case add restrictions to the original license which allows itself to be restricted in a certain man
        • My experience makes this restriction much more obvious - I've had to reproduce about 70 licenses for a product, instead of just the two. Well over a hundred pages of licenses, instead of about 2 (with, for the GPL, a written offer of source code).

          For a physical product, this adds a noticeable extra burden. One extra license is no big deal, yet multiply it by a bunch and it becomes obvious.

          Just reproducing the license (without adding the restriction that the distributor HAS to reproduce the license), a

  • 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
  • No....

    It appears that someone (Jiri Slaby) doesn't understand what they are allowed to do with regards to the license.

    This would - unlikely - have ever made it into an official patch set.
    No Story Here -- move along.
    • Considering that Jiri happens to be the original copyright holder of the code in question,
      they DO very probably understand what they are or are not allowed to do with regards to
      the licensing of the code. Since HE does NOT need licensing to produce it, relicense it, etc.
      he can do with his code what he sees fit to do.

      This would likely have made it into an official patch set if it could have been verified
      that Jiri did the change.

      Still, no story really here other than Theo and company being their usual abrasiv
      • Considering that Jiri happens to be the original copyright holder of the code in question,
        they DO very probably understand what they are or are not allowed to do with regards to
        the licensing of the code. Since HE does NOT need licensing to produce it, relicense it, etc.
        he can do with his code what he sees fit to do.


        Except he's not the only copyright holder of the code in question:

        * Copyright (c) 2004-2007 Reyk Floeter
        * Copyright (c) 2006-2007 Nick Kossifidis
        * Copyright (c) 2002-2007 Sam Leffler, Errno Consu
  • Dual licensed (Score:3, Informative)

    by xaxa (988988) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:14AM (#20396613)
    Ignoring moral issues, is there a problem? The source was dual-licensed under GPL and BSD licenses ("Alternatively, this software may be distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License ("GPL") version 2 as published by the Free Software Foundation."), so isn't it allowed to release it under just the GPL? IANAL.

    I'll leave moral issues to another thread.
    • As I understand it, not all of the code was dual-licenced. That's where the problem lies.
  • Jury's Still Out (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bob(TM) (104510) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:18AM (#20396657)
    The fact is the original patch post was on Tue, 28 Aug 2007 12:00:50. Since then, the discussions are ongoing as how best to proceed. Recently, this was posted:

    Date Wed, 29 Aug 2007 08:35:05 -0200
    From "Jiri Slaby"
    Subject Re: [PATCH 4/5] Net: ath5k, license is GPLv2

    On 8/29/07, Johannes Berg wrote:
    > On Tue, 2007-08-28 at 12:00 -0400, Jiri Slaby wrote:
    >
    > > The files are available only under GPLv2 since now.
    >
    > Since the BSD people are already getting upset about (for various
    > reasons among which seem to be a clear non-understanding) I'd suggest
    > changing it to:

    yes, please. Can somebody do it, I'm away from my box.

    > + * Parts of this file were originally licenced under the BSD licence:
    > + *
    > > * 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.
    > + *
    > + * Further changes to this file since the moment this notice was extended
    > + * are now distributed under the terms of the GPL version two as published
    > + * by the Free Software Foundation
    >
    > johannes
    >

    As mentioned before, it is the LKML, not the Rosetta stone. Things change ...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dysprosia (661648)
      There's still a problem as not all the files are dual licensed (eg drivers/net/wireless/ath5k_regdom.c). They can't strip the entire license text from those files which are licensed BSD only and relicense as GPL.
  • Legal Weirdness (Score:5, Informative)

    by saterdaies (842986) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:22AM (#20396693)
    Basically, you are allowed to link GPL'd code to BSD code. So if I wrote "The boy hit the baseball" under the BSD license and you alter it to "The large boy hit the baseball well" under the GPL, the original statement is still available for use under the BSD license - even in your second statement. As long as they remove your GPL'd addition (the intertwined words "large" and "well"), they are free to use it under the BSD's terms.

    The practical point is that the BSD code, when linked with GPL code, must adhere to the restrictions of both licenses. Most people just say that it has been relicensed under the GPL. That isn't exactly true. From most practical standpoints, the BSD license has so few restrictions that it doesn't matter, but technically that BSD code is still under the BSD license and it's requirements must be met.

    So, that BSD code can easily be linked and intertwined with GPL code, but those few requirements of the BSD license must be met so long as there is any BSD code in the GPL'd derivative work.
  • by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:56AM (#20396997)

    An Anonymous Coward wrote this by the original article....

    How much you will to bet this won't instantly appear on Slashdot

    ;-)

  • Seems someone found an earlier article on his blog that is a bit hypocritical. :-)

    https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=636719409 7783716840&postID=4418674504017401530 [blogger.com]
    • That's freakin' hilarious.

      Kind of spooky, though. Blogger.com knows who I am... I don't recall ever creating an account with them. Maybe once, on my laptop, 3 years ago... but not from this machine. I wonder what their authentication is tied to?? Google?
  • OpenBSD Wireless (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cyberkahn (398201) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:35AM (#20397453) Homepage
    OpenBSD Wireless is something the OpenBSD team does really well. I had a brand new laptop, in which I first installed Ubuntu 7.04. Well, wireless didn't work and after reading all the hacks that would be required I decided to install OpenBSD out of curiosity. Well, everything worked with no hacks required. Kudos to the OpenBSD team who perform such miracles as well as all the other wonderful things they have done for the open source community e.g. OpenSSH.
  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:25AM (#20398199) Homepage
    This line (taken from the diff in the link) says it all, really.

    The original implementation was dual licensed BSD/GPL.

    The submitter changed some bits and decided to pick the GPL license (both would have been allowed).

    Now the submitted code is GPL-restricted.

    It's a pretty pathetic thing to do, cutting off the source from any usefull changes, but perfectly legal nonetheless.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:19PM (#20399975)
    Some points...

    a) ath5k_hw.c /ah5k_hw.h / ath5kreg.h and ath5k.h do not come from openbsd tree, they have code from bsd (that's why Reyk's copyright is there) but are written from scratch. They first appeared on madwifi svn (http://madwifi.org/changeset/2232) and are part of madwifi-old-openhal project. They have a different layout (eg. code is not split per-chip as in openbsd cvs but it's common for all chips, lot more documentation on registers etc) and you can see that changes have been done since http://madwifi.org/log/branches/madwifi-old-openha l/openhal [madwifi.org] (initial register writes for example are done in a different way than original openbsd code). So it's a derivative work or a "fork", not a "copy" as the license says ("copyright notice and this permission notice appear in all copies."). So if those files had from start a GPLv2 license it wouldn't be a problem (since they are not "copies" of the original code and author's copyright -Reyk's- is still there so there is no copyright violation either).

    b) Original author of those files (mickflemm) later uploaded them on madwifi svn repository again but now with a different license (http://madwifi.org/changeset/2670), GPLv2 as you see (Reyk's copyright is still there of course)...

    So where is the problem ???

    I see no violation, only people calling other people thieves (http://www.osnews.com/story.php/18528/Linux-Devel opers-Steal-OpenBSD-Code-for-Wireless-Driver) and this is really anoying !!!

    Also have in mind that Madwifi team have provided patches on openbsd (you can see that on openbsd cvs http://www.openbsd.org/cgi-bin/cvsweb/src/sys/dev/ ic/ [openbsd.org]), so "bad linux developers against openbsd" scenario doesn't apply here...

    To summarize the whole thing IMHO is nonsense, Theo just wanted to make a point against linux developers after a serious (even copyright was removed) violation commited on openbsd's cvs (http://lists.berlios.de/pipermail/bcm43xx-dev/200 7-April/004370.html), not a test branch like -mm, the core cvs. Also have in mind that Theo back then criticized Mike for doing this on a public mailing list etc and now he didn't say a thing about publicity.
  • 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.

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