[Box Backup] Box Backup licensing

Chris Wilson chris at qwirx.com
Fri Jan 15 13:02:43 GMT 2010

Hi all,

On Fri, 15 Jan 2010, Ben Summers wrote:

> I am happy to change the code I wrote to the standard BSD license.

I assume we are talking about changing some of the code to the 3-clause 
version of the BSD license 

> The advertising clause is no longer fair, as Chris Wilson has taken 
> over. I will leave it to Chris and the community to decide whether or 
> not there should be an advertising clause, and if there is, what it 
> should say.
> I am not, however, willing to change the license to GPL because I 
> believe the 'Box libraries' are of general utility. I know this will 
> complicate things, but as a compromise I will, at Chris and the 
> community's request, relicense the Box Backup specific code I wrote as 
> GPL if the general purpose libraries are left with the BSD license.
> I nominate Chris Wilson to adjudicate and make the final decision. :-)

My current feeling on this is that I don't want the code that we wrote to 
be used by some commercial company in a closed-source product without 
paying us anything or even crediting us. So I feel that anyone wishing to 
use our code should do one of the following three:

1. open source their code as well, under similar terms

2. credit us (Ben Summers and contributors) in the documentation

3. negotiate terms for a commercial license with the copyright holders

(I don't particularly care about the advertising clause).

The current license forces them to do either 2 or 3. If the license was 
changed to 2-clause BSD, they would not have to do any of the above. If it 
was changed to 3-clause BSD they would still have to do either 2 or 3. If 
a significant part of the code (the backup engine) was GPL, they would 
have to do either 1 and 2, or 3.

I have a preference for GPL where possible, to strengthen open-source 
projects against commercial competition. However I would accept 
relicensing the whole thing under 3-clause BSD if that was preferred by 
other contributors.

My only reason for considering this change at all is Fedora's issue with 
the license. I would rather not have to waste cycles on this issue. I must 
say I'm skeptical about and unhappy with their conclusion that the 
advertising clause makes the software non-free and therefore it cannot be 
included in Fedora. We could still push back on it.

Note that Microsoft apparently ignores the advertising clause: did you 
ever see "This product includes software developed by the University of 
California, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory" on an advert for Windows?

Does anyone have any objection to the proposed relicensing as follows:

bin/*, lib/backup*, test/backup* to GPL
The rest of lib/* to 3-clause BSD

Cheers, Chris.
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