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

Jeremy C. Reed reed at reedmedia.net
Fri Aug 21 21:28:12 UTC 2020

On Fri, 21 Aug 2020, Josh Berkus wrote:

> > Amazon?s preferred permissive license is Apache 2.0.? In part because it
> > doesn?t have this ?dozens and dozens of pointless minor variants? problem.
> For such a short license, BSD has an awful lot of variations.

I published a print two volume set of NetBSD sysadmin manuals

As part of that work I identified hundreds of unique licenses.
My printed License acknowledgements include 26 different statements 
"This product includes software developed ..."
(Advertising clauses)

And the included licenses began on labeled page 1461 (volume 2 physical 
page 716) and ended on page 1529 (volume 2 page 784).

t1:reed$ ls -l /home/reed/book/netbsd-documents/copyrights.tex 
-rw-r--r--  1 reed  reed  281396 Jun 14  2010 /home/reed/book/netbsd-documents/copyrights.tex

t1:reed$ wc /home/reed/book/netbsd-documents/copyrights.tex    
    7920   40741  281396 /home/reed/book/netbsd-documents/copyrights.tex

t1:reed$ grep '\\hline' /home/reed/book/netbsd-documents/copyrights.tex 
| wc -l
(separators between unique licenses)

t1:reed$ grep '\\textbf' /home/reed/book/netbsd-documents/copyrights.tex | wc -l
(unique files)

t1:reed$ grep '^Copyri' /home/reed/book/netbsd-documents/copyrights.tex | wc -l
(unique Copyright lines)

t1:reed$ grep "^Redistribution and use" /home/reed/book/netbsd-documents/copyrights.tex | wc -l

t1:reed$ grep -v "^Permission to use" /home/reed/book/netbsd-documents/copyrights.tex | wc -l                                           

Then had a variety of other unique licenses too.

Every license (disclaimer etc) included was unique due to some wording 
difference even if only a single word but not including the copyright 
owners. As part of the listing I bundled all the copyright 
statements/dates/owners and the filenames with the single corresponding 
unique license.

That was for only that small two volume collection. (I say "small" since 
there are around 15 more volumes and hundreds more unique licenses.)

As part of this work I identified many missing licenses -- unknown 
provenance of code or no contact with original developers -- and also 
worked with some copyright owners to relicense and also found some 
license mistakes like duplicate licenses added to same code with 
different words.

> Gotta be the bikeshed problem.

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