[Box Backup] Box Backup licensing

Martin Ebourne lists at ebourne.me.uk
Fri Jan 15 22:23:41 GMT 2010

On Fri, 2010-01-15 at 14:02 +0100, Chris Wilson wrote:
> 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 think there might be some confusion here. The 3 clause BSD licence
doesn't require attribution so doesn't achieve (2):


> 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.

Fedora's actually quite lenient here, spot is saying (in the bug) that
the current advertising clause is badly worded and a rewording of it to
match the normal 4 clause BSD licence would be sufficient. I'm actually
a little surprised because the 4 clause BSD isn't even OSI approved:


The reason why the advertising clause is problematic is covered here:


> 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?

Unfortunately Microsoft is well understood to be a bad citizen. Even
when they appear to be doing the right thing (with great fanfare too)
they are in fact only trying to cover up that they've been violating the


I've never heard of anyone enforcing a BSD licence whereas people do
enforce GPL, hence why this particular case was corrected.

> 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

Works for me.


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