[lkml]   [2007]   [Sep]   [3]   [last100]   RSS Feed
Views: [wrap][no wrap]   [headers]  [forward] 
Messages in this thread
Subject[: Re: That whole "Linux stealing our code" thing]
This is a lot more relevant than much of the ongoing
discussion, so perhaps people could take a moment to read it over.

----- Forwarded message from Reyk Floeter <> -----
From: Reyk Floeter <>
Date: Mon, 3 Sep 2007 13:23:04 +0200
Subject: Re: That whole "Linux stealing our code" thing


I just returned from vacation where I was offline for about two weeks.
So I totally missed the incidence and all the surrounding discussion.
I'm just digging through many many mails in my inbox from OpenBSD
users and developers, Linux people, GNU/freesoftware people, misc *BSD
people, and obviously from some trolls.

I don't want to restart the discussion but I just want to say and
repeat a few words:

- I will not release or agree to release my code under either the GPL
or any kind of a "dual"-license.

- The ISC-style license must remain including the copyright notice and
even the warranty term.

- Thanks to the OpenBSD community and especially to Theo de Raadt for
entering into it and for defending my rights as the author of the
controversial code.

- This is eating our time. Every few weeks I get a new discussion
about licensing of the atheros driver etc. blah blah. Why can't they
just accept the license as it is and focus on more important things?

I will talk to different people to get the latest state and to think
about the next steps. I don't even know if the issue has been solved
in the linux tree. But PLEASE DON'T SPAM ME with any other mails about
this, even if you want to help/support me, I will talk to the relevant
people in private.


On Fri, Aug 31, 2007 at 07:40:52PM -0600, Theo de Raadt wrote:
> [bcc'd to Eben Moglen so that people don't flood him]
> I stopped making public statements in the recent controversy because
> Eben Moglen started working behind the scenes to 'improve' what Linux
> people are doing wrong with licensing, and he asked me to give him
> pause, so his team could work. Honestly, I was greatly troubled by
> the situation, because even people like Alan Cox were giving other
> Linux developers advice to ... break the law. And furthermore, there
> are even greater potential risks for how the various communities
> interact.
> For the record -- I was right and the Linux developers cannot change
> the licenses in any of those ways proposed in those diffs, or that
> conversation (
> It is illegal to modify a license unless you are the owner/author,
> because it is a legal document. If there are multiple owners/authors,
> they must all agree. A person who receives the file under two
> licenses can use the file in either way.... but if they distribute
> the file (modified or unmodified!), they must distribute it with the
> existing license intact, because the licenses we all use have
> statements which say that the license may not be removed.
> It may seem that the licenses let one _distribute_ it under either
> license, but this interpretation of the license is false -- it is
> still illegal to break up, cut up, or modify someone else's legal
> document, and, it cannot be replaced by another license because it may
> not be removed. Hence, a dual licensed file always remains dual
> licensed, every time it is distributed.
> Now I've been nice enough to give Eben and his team a few days time to
> communicate inside the Linux community, to convince them that what
> they have proposed/discussed is wrong at a legal level. I think that
> Eben also agrees with me that there are grave concerns about how this
> leads to problems at the ethical and community levels (at some level,
> a ethos is needed for Linux developers to work with *BSD developers).
> And there are possibilities that similar issues could loom in the
> larger open source communities who are writing applications.
> Eben has thus far chosen not to make a public statement, but since
> time is running out on people's memory, I am making one. Also, I feel
> that a lot of Linux "relicencing" meme-talkin' trolls basically have
> attacked me very unfairly again, so I am not going to wait for Eben to
> say something public about this.
> In, Alan Cox managed to summarize
> what Jiri Slaby and Luis Rodriguez were trying to do by proposing a
> modification of a Dual Licenced file without the consent of all the
> authors. Alan asks "So whats the problem ?". Well, Alan, I must
> caution you -- your post is advising people to break the law.
> I will attempt to describe in simple terms, based on what I have been
> taught, how one must handle such licenses:
> - If you receive dual licensed code, you may not delete the license
> you don't like and then distribute it. It has to stay, because you
> may not edit someone's else's license -- which is a three-part legal
> document (For instance: Copyright notice, BSD, followed by GPL).
> - If you receive ISC or BSD licensed code, you may not delete the
> license. Same principle, since the notice says so. It's the law.
> Really.
> - If you add "large pieces of originality" to the code which are valid
> for copyright protection on their own, you may choose to put a different
> and seperate (must be non-conflicting...) license at the top of the file
> above the existing license.
> (Warning: things become less clear as to what the combination of
> licenses mean, though -- there are ethical traps, too).
> - If you wish for everyone to remain friends, you should give code back.
> That means (at some ethical or friendliness level) you probably do
> not want to put a GPL at the top of a BSD or ISC file, because you
> would be telling the people who wrote the BSD or ISC file:
> "Thanks for what you wrote, but this is a one-way street, you give
> us code, and we take it, we give you you nothing back. screw off."
> In either case, I think a valuable lessons has been taught us here in
> the BSD world -- there are many many GPL loving people who are going
> to try to find any way to not give back and share (I will mention one
> name: Luis Rodriguez has been a fanatic pushing us for dual licensed,
> and I feel he is to blame for this particular problem). Many of those
> same people have been saying for years that BSD code can be stolen,
> and that is why people should GPL their code.
> Well, the lesson they have really taught us is that they consider the
> GPL their best tool to take from us!
> GPL fans said the great problem we would face is that companies would
> take our BSD code, modify it, and not give back. Nope -- the great
> problem we face is that people would wrap the GPL around our code, and
> lock us out in the same way that these supposed companies would lock
> us out. Just like the Linux community, we have many companies giving
> us code back, all the time. But once the code is GPL'd, we cannot get
> it back.
> Ironic.
> I hope some people in the GPL community will give that some thought.
> Your license may benefit you, but you could lose friends you need.
> The GPL users have an opportunity to 'develop community', to keep an
> ethic of sharing alive.
> If the Linux developers wrap GPL's around things we worked very hard
> on, it will definately not be viewed as community development.
> Thank you for thinking about this.
> [I ask that one person make sure that one copy of this ends up on the
> linux kernel mailing list]

----- End forwarded message -----
To unsubscribe from this list: send the line "unsubscribe linux-kernel" in
the body of a message to
More majordomo info at
Please read the FAQ at
 \ /
  Last update: 2007-09-03 15:39    [from the cache]
©2003-2011 Jasper Spaans