[License-discuss] Fwd: Yet another question about using libraries with different licensed in OSS

Massimo Zaniboni massimo.zaniboni at asterisell.com
Wed Jan 18 15:50:37 UTC 2017

On 18/01/2017 16:17, Alex Rousskov wrote:

> The authors licensed their code.
> Where you place that licensed code is up to you, and you may mix "code
> pieces" as needed.

Ok. In fact BSD says "use in source and binary forms, with or without 
modification, are permitted", so "use" implies that you can 
transform/move/reorganize the source code.

> When dealing with a project containing a complex mixture of simple,

"simple" :-) More I read BSD license text, and less I think it is 
simple. I prefer complex but clear licenses :-)

> compatible licenses like BSD and MIT, the easiest thing to do is to
> acknowledge their existence in one place (e.g., NOTICE or COPYING file),
> under a general "this Software contains code licensed under the
> following licenses:" header.

Sorry if I'm (maybe) too much pedantic, but BSD requires also that:
* redistributions of source code retain the above copyright notice
* redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice

So probably to comply 100% with the requirement of the license, if you 
have 10 source files, with the license header in them, for reusing the 
code in these files, you need to extract all the different authors, and 
list them in some place as you said, and they must be acknowledged also 
from the binary application in some LICENSE/CREDIT menu. So for every 
author of every source file, you should mention them.

I doubt there are many projects doing so, but reading the license it 
should be the path to follow. But it is obviously mainly an academic 
discussion, because from a practical point of view if you cite the 
original project, and the main authors, all the minor authors are 
indirectly and automatically acknowledged, because you can retrieve the 
original project source code, and I doubt they will sue you :-)

Regarding the fact to leave the BSD license header in the source file or 
not, I think the same thing of you, but in any case the BSD license is 
not crystal clear on this because it says:

"Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, 
this list of conditions and the following disclaimer."

"retain" is a rather strong word. It's meaning is "continue to have", 
"keep in a particular place", so if we read it literally, you should 
take the header in this position, and then the BSD license still apply 
to the source file, and by consequence you can not use a different 
license, but this should be absurd.

So I'm still convinced that BSD license text is not very precise.


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