[License-discuss] A modest proposal to reduce the number of BSD licenses

Russell Nelson nelson at crynwr.com
Tue Aug 18 03:12:39 UTC 2020

We've all seen the vast variety of BSD licenses. You know the ones I 
mean: "Do what you want with the code, but if you change it, you can't 
mis-represent it as the same thing. We don't include any warranty 
because you didn't pay us for one."

I propose that we find two things:

 1. A pair of BSD-like licenses which are so near to each other as to be
    practically the same in effect, and
 2. A party that is using one of these licenses and is willing to
    relicense under the other.

The problem has always been that open source project accumulate 
licensors and patches in equal number, and in theory to relicense 
something requires assent from all licensors. I'm saying that we don't 
have to worry about them because they are suffering no harm because of #1.

This has been proposed before. What is different now is that the Public 
Software Fund is going to stand behind this process, and defend the 
project's editor against lawsuits by any licensors who object to this 

Doesn't matter which license is primary to the other because this is 
just a test case. I believe that once people see that a relicense of no 
significant effect is easy, and lets the OSI make open source licensing 
less complicated -- which is the organization's long-term goal.

Suggestions for #1 and #2?

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