[License-discuss] proposal to revise and slightly reorganize the OSI licensing pages

John Cowan cowan at mercury.ccil.org
Fri Jun 8 03:18:21 UTC 2012

Rick Moen scripsit:

> I keep hearing a limited group of people speaking of this alleged tort 
> ('purporting to sublicense'), but fail to find it in copyright law.

Is there actually such a thing as copyright sublicensing?  I suspect not.
In which case "purporting to sublicense" an unchanged copy of a work
is usurping the copyright owner's right to control the license, and
likewise for a copy whose changes are de minimis.  You can license your
derivative work however you like, consistently with the original license,
but that's not a sublicense: it is the license of the new work.

> Reuse of 2-clause BSD code that satisfies its two requirements
> (retention of copyright notice in source code, reproduction of copyright
> notice and warranty disclaimer in documentation and other materials
> provided with binaries) complies with the licence.

Reuse, yes.  Changing the license terms on a copy, no.

> [1] This dumb shibboleth about 'sublicensing BSD code' came up often
> enough that Ernie Prabhakar at OSI nicely FAQed it, back in 2008.

You'll note he agrees with me: only derivative works can have a different
license, though it's a messy fact-based question which modified copies
are derivative works and which are the original.

John Cowan   cowan at ccil.org    http://ccil.org/~cowan
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths
led. And through the air. I am he that walks unseen.  I am the clue-finder,
the web-cutter, the stinging fly. I was chosen for the lucky number.  --Bilbo

More information about the License-discuss mailing list