[Approval Request] BSD-Lite license

John Cowan jcowan at reutershealth.com
Tue Nov 27 22:04:50 UTC 2001

Paul Guyot wrote:

> We've got a double point in these two sections:
> a/ a derived work or a collection is protected by a copyright as such.
> b/ original work/elements copyright shall not be violated.

Agreed.  (And I agree that the compilation case is not very
different from the derivative-work case, as well.)

But since B is *licensed* by A (whether by a public license or
otherwise) to incorporate a in b, there can be no breach of A's

> Your excerpt of the US copyright law just talks about point (a). If you 
> quoted the first sentence of 17/103/b, you'll have seen that point (b) 
> is there as well:
>> The copyright in a compilation or derivative work extends only to the 
>> material contributed by the author of such work, as distinguished from 
>> the preexisting material employed in the work, and does not imply any 
>> exclusive right in the preexisting material.

No *exclusive* right.  In other words, B has no right to exclude
A from licensing a to persons other than herself, nor to license a
to third parties, nor in general to do any of those things wrt the
work a that only the copyright owner may do.  But she may do all
these things wrt the work b, including the a-components of it.

> The BSD doesn't say documentation but "documentation and/or other 
> materials".

There still seems to be none; saying "FTP /?", the usual
Microsoft convention for command-line utilities, does not work, and
there is no mention of the program in Windows Help nor in
any other standard place.  If you don't know it's there and
how to use it, you are S.O.L.

> And if they don't quote the BSD, my point of view is that 
> they're violating the BSD license (but can you really prove that it's 
> derived from BSD code?).

Well, the file FTP.EXE contains a Regents of the University of
California copyright notice in it.

> By the EULA plus the BSD, I meant what the BSD allows minus what the 
> EULA forbids.

All of what the BSD allows is forbidden by the EULA, so this is
not a good example for this particular line of reasoning.

>> Because B (via the GPL) says you aren't allowed to create and publish c
>> without licensing it under the GPL.  That does not mean that B is a
>> copyright owner of c.
> But B cannot impose this because B holds some copyright on derivative 
> work. Software licenses are licenses (therefore on use of things, 
> typically on copyright and patents). They're not contracts such as 'I 
> agree to give you this book but anything that you paint while you'll 
> have it in your bookshelves shall be licensed under these terms'.

Why not?  The GPL says that you can only make copies or derivative
works under certain conditions.  If you meet the conditions, you get
to make the copies or derivative works (and your doing so is implicit
acceptance); if not, you have not accepted the GPL, but you can't make
the copies or derivative works in any other way.

Consider this example:  Alice writes a novel, and Bob makes a movie
that is adapted from this novel, under license from Alice.  Mallory now
bootlegs VHS copies (to avoid the complications of the DCMA, we won't
talk of DVD copies) of Bob's movie.  Who gets to sue Mallory for
copyright infringement?

Bob and Bob alone.  The fact that Alice's characters and even words
are to be found in the movie doesn't matter.

IANAL, TINLA.  If I am shooting myself in the foot here, I would
appreciate being told of it by someone WIAL.

Not to perambulate             || John Cowan <jcowan at reutershealth.com>
    the corridors               || http://www.reutershealth.com
during the hours of repose     || http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
    in the boots of ascension.  \\ Sign in Austrian ski-resort hotel

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