[License-discuss] Life cycle of a license with and without binary attribution clause

Kevin Fleming kevin+osi at kpfleming.us
Wed Feb 10 21:46:35 UTC 2016

For (a), as you'll hear from everyone else, you won't get legal advice on
this list, you need to get that from your own counsel. In my personal
opinion, as a non-lawyer but an avid open source
advocate/consumer/producer, I believe the 'attribution on binary
distribution' provisions are intended to apply to all distributions, no
matter how many parties are involved. Otherwise, it would be fairly trivial
to construct a set of legal entities that allowed you to avoid the
attribution obligation entirely.

For (b), removing clause 2 from the 2-clause BSD license would make it a
different (and not OSI approved) license. The binary form of the software
would presumably still be covered by copyright, thus anyone distributing it
would not be permitted to claim copyright on it, but there wouldn't be any
other restrictions on further copying. There are existing licenses which
strive to provide this same level of freedom, so it would be much better to
choose one of them instead of creating another license.

On Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 3:22 PM, Zluty Sysel <zluty.sysel at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi there,
> I was wondering the following regarding attribution clauses in licenses
> like the BSD 3-clause and derivatives.
> a) If Company Foo manufactures a product (think Integrated Circuit) that
> contains portions of software (say firmware in ROM) in binary form covered
> by the BSD license and then sells the product to a Company Bar that takes
> the chip and places it on a PCB inside an end-product that it then sells to
> the general public, is Company Bar required to reproduce the text of the
> license? In other words, is that still considered a redistribution of the
> original software in binary form, or is only Company Foo required to do
> that?
> b) If one was to take the BSD 3-clause license and remove its second
> clause:
> "2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
> notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
> documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.”
> what would happen then with binary redistributions of software covered by
> this modified BSD? Would they not be covered by any license at all? Would
> the binary executable or ROM be exempt from any type of restriction
> completely?
> Thanks in advance.
> Zluty
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