Dispelling BSD License Misconceptions (fwd)

John Cowan cowan at ccil.org
Wed Jan 17 15:55:50 UTC 2007

Brian Behlendorf scripsit:

> Would a reasonable person who found the BSD license in a bundle 
> of code assume that the notice applied to the whole thing?  Is that what 
> the original Berkeley Software Distribution copyright holders intended 
> by the word "retain"?

Well, it would depend on the context.  If it appeared in a top-level
file labeled "LICENSE" or "COPYING", then yes, I would think so.

I wanted to point out the case of Python, which since the 2.1.1 release
has been lugging around four license texts in its LICENSE file
A close reading shows that only the topmost of these, the Python Software
Foundation License Version 2, is actually effective, and the others
are carried around at the tail simply because their own text, as applied
to earlier versions of Python, says that they must be.

Still, this is less than obvious, and I can see someone believing that
the conjunction of all four licenses is in effect, and in particular
that the various choice-of-law provisions (California, U.S., and Virginia)
are all somehow applicable.

What asininity could I have uttered     John Cowan <cowan at ccil.org>
that they applaud me thus?              http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
        --Phocion, Greek orator

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