[License-review] For Legacy Approval: LBNL BSD

Henrik Ingo henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi
Wed May 22 09:13:59 UTC 2019

On Sat, May 18, 2019 at 6:53 AM Pamela Chestek <pamela at chesteklegal.com> wrote:
> On 5/17/19 10:26 AM, Richard Fontana wrote:
> The odd last paragraph should be paused over -- the notable feature is
> "if you choose to make your Enhancements available either publicly, or
> directly to Lawrence Berkeley National
> Laboratory, without imposing a separate written license agreement for
> such Enhancements", you grant a permissive license which is somewhat
> broader than the downstream BSD-style license. What annoys me about it
> is, probably due to careless drafting, that it does not appear to
> address the case of someone making apparently non-licensed
> Enhancements available directly (non-"publicly") to some person other
> than LBNL.
> Wouldn't it just default to whatever the default is for BSD (inbound=outbound)?
> And isn't the concern erased because it's all conditional anyway, "if you choose to make your Enhancements available ... without imposing a separate written agreement ..." then the license-in applies? But there is a mechanism for avoiding the grant by providing a separate written agreement?

I agree that this shouldn't be a concern here.

There are 2 patterns here that typically raises eyebrows.

1. OSI typically rejects language that gives preferential treatment to
some particular entity, such as the one that first created the
software. This language doesn't do that, since the public and LBNL get
the same license.

2. License-as-contributor-agreement - which can lead to "you signed
away all your patent right because you cloned this github repo". I
don't see such a problem. This is more like a clarification, or
"copyleft BSD" if you will. For the typical way of modern OSS
development this seems like a non issue: when I add code to a git repo
that has a BSD license, the code becomes also BSD licensed. This seems
to me more like a clarification for use cases such as emailing a
standalone patch without specifying a license.

I guess you already pointed out that this license also doesn't match a
third objectionable pattern: forcing to release private patches.

Are there other differences to BSD than this one? The "BSD by default"
clarification seems entirely approvable to me at least.


henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi
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