Questions about the two-clause BSD license

Dag-Erling Smørgrav des at
Sun Oct 18 23:03:55 UTC 2009

Pimm Hogeling <pimmhogeling at> writes:
> The clause states that binary forms must reproduce the copyright
> notice, the list of conditions, and the disclaimer.  I could imagine
> that such an obligation will scare off some people.

Like who?

> I'd like to discuss how much of that clause is actually functional,
> and what could be left out, putting less obligations on the licensees.
> I'm thinking the disclaimer has to be reproduced to protect the
> contributers (against being liable for damage and such.)  Could
> leaving out that restriction be hazardous to the contributers?


> Why the list of conditions has to be reproduced, I'm not sure.  What is
> the purpose of that restriction?

Because the recipient of a piece of software derived from BSD-licensed
software still has the right to redistribute the BSD-licensed parts,
however awkward that might be.  In theory, I could disassemble my wife's
iPod, copy the firmware from the flash chip, somehow extract the
BSD-licensed bits (which are pretty substantial, especially when you
include code under other similar licenses, such as OpenSSL) and stick
them on my web site.

(my wife would not be happy, though)

> Finally, in my understanding the copyright notice is only for
> attributional reasons.  If a project uses my library I will be the
> copyright holder over that part of the binary form, whether it
> includes a copyright notice saying so or not.  Attribution might be
> important to contributers, so I wouldn't remove that restriction.
> However, in the case of a binary form that is distributed along with
> the source code, that restriction is not needed.  The first clause
> already obligates the user to keep the copyright notice in the source
> code.  Because of this, in such cases the attribution is already in
> place.

I don't understand this part.  Are you saying that you want attribution
only for source distributions, but not for binary distributions?

Dag-Erling Smørgrav - des at

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