License committee report for January 2008

Philippe Verdy verdy_p at
Sun Jan 27 17:00:50 UTC 2008

> -----Message d'origine-----
> De : Dag-Erling Smørgrav [mailto:des at]
> Envoyé : dimanche 27 janvier 2008 13:00
> À : Russ Nelson
> Cc : osi at; license-discuss at; license-
> review at
> Objet : Re: License committee report for January 2008
> Russ Nelson <nelson at> writes:
> > Title: The Simplified BSD License
> > Submission:
> >
> cgi?3:mss:13962:200709:epiemomifonkahmoahjh
> > Comments: The board sent this license back to the submittor because
> >   the license is identical to the FreeBSD license, yet the FreeBSD
> >   license is more well-known.  The submittor has refused to change the
> >   name of his submission:
> >
> > Recommend: Modifying the New BSD License template so that the third
> >   clause is optional.  In this manner, both the FreeBSD license and
> >   the Dag-Erling's Simplified BSD License will fit into the template
> >   with no license proliferation problems.

- If the licence is "identical to the FreeBSD license", the nit is already
approved, and there's no need to change it.
- If acception requires changing a mandatory clause so that it becomes
optional and the licence acceptable, then the problem is this mandatory
clause, and the licence cannot be described as "identical" to the FreeBSD

So the problem is not in the name (which needs to be distinct if the licence
is effectively different), but in the existence of the clause. All
discussions should go on whether the additional mandatory clause is
acceptable or not. If it if not, then there's no reason to consider the
licence identical to the FreeBSD licence, unless you are arguing that the
FreeBSD licence does not comply to the OSI requirements. But it if complies,
there's no reason to not consider it open-source.

If the clause is still creating incompatibilities with FreeBSD due to the
mandatory status, then the licence is still open-source (or free according
to FSF requirements with regard to possible GPL compatibility), but mutually
incompatible and such exclusion will cause problems in some projects that
need inclusion with dependant code sharing (however an independent public
interface could be used, and developed separately to ensure that either the
FreeBSD component or the new component can be freely and easily replaced by
another implementation without altering the functionalities). Such interface
would need to have a more "liberal" licence than GPL (it could be LGPL for
example, or licences that don't require strong licence binding between

So what is this additional clause? If it is mandatory, this means that it's
a distinct requirement or restrictions. The nature of the restriction will
be decisive: this must adhere to the allowed descriptions, and such
requirements are those that are usually part of exclusive authors rights for
the protection of authors themselves, such as protection of their own
contributor name, and some required words for correct identification of the
component covered by the copyright.

Advertizing clauses however must clearly be made technology neutral (so no
required logo and no required colors, as they may not be displayable in the
intended reutilisation, no required URL because URLs contain domain names
whose possession is not exclusive to authors with a long enough term or
order to be able to ensure the licence obligations, but also because it
requires an Internet access in the application, if this URL must be active).
And also no required registration of users and licencees (because it is not
cost free, and requires submitting private data not owned by the authors

So what is this problematic "mandatory" clause?

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