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<b>SecBSD Copyright Policy</b><br><br>
<p class="purple">Goal.
Copyright law is complex, SecBSD policy is simple &mdash; SecBSD strives to
provide code that can be freely used, copied, modified, and distributed
by anyone and for any purpose. This maintains the spirit of the original
Berkeley Software Distribution. The preferred wording of a license to be
applied to new code can be found in the
<a href="license.template">license template</a>.
SecBSD can exist as it does today because of the example set by the
Computer Systems Research Group at Berkeley and the battles which they
and others fought to create a Unix source distribution un-encumbered
by proprietary code and commercial licensing.
The ability of a <strong>freely redistributable</strong> "Berkeley" Unix
to move forward on a competitive basis with other operating systems depends
on the willingness of the various development groups to exchange code amongst
themselves and with other projects.
Understanding the legal issues surrounding copyright is fundamental to
the ability to exchange and re-distribute code, while honoring the spirit of
the copyright and concept of attribution is fundamental to promoting the
cooperation of the people involved.
<p class="purple">The Berkeley Copyright</p>
The original Berkeley copyright poses no restrictions on private or commercial
use of the software and imposes only simple and uniform requirements
for maintaining copyright notices in redistributed versions and
crediting the originator of the material <strong>only</strong> in
<p class="purple">For instance:</p>
* Copyright (c) 1982, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1993
* The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
* Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
* modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions
* are met:
* 1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
* notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
* 2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
* notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
* documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
* 3. All advertising materials mentioning features or use of this software
* must display the following acknowledgement:
* This product includes software developed by the University of
* California, Berkeley and its contributors.
* 4. Neither the name of the University nor the names of its contributors
* may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software
* without specific prior written permission.
Berkeley rescinded the 3rd term (the advertising term) on 22 July 1999.
Verbatim copies of the Berkeley license in the SecBSD tree have that
term removed. In addition, many 3rd-party BSD-style licenses consist
solely of the first two terms.
Because the SecBSD copyright imposes no conditions beyond those
imposed by the Berkeley copyright, SecBSD can hope to share the same
wide distribution and applicability as the Berkeley distributions.
It follows however, that SecBSD cannot include material which
includes copyrights which are more restrictive than the Berkeley
copyright, or must relegate this material to a secondary status,
i.e. SecBSD as a whole is freely redistributable, but some optional
components may not be.
<p class="purple">Copyright Law</p>
While the overall subject of copyright law is far beyond the scope of
this document, some basics are in order. Under the current copyright law,
copyrights are implicit in the creation of a new work and reside with
the creator. In general the copyright applies
only to the new work, not the material the work was derived from, nor
those portions of the derivative material included in the new work.
Copyright law admits to three general categories of works:
<dt>Original Work
<dd>A new work that is not derived from an existing work.
<dt>Derivative Work
<dd>Work that is derived from, includes or amends existing works.
<dd>A work that is a compilation of existing new and derivative works.
The fundamental concept is that there is primacy of the copyright, that
is a copyright of a derivative work does not affect the rights held by
the owner of the copyright of the original work, rather only the part
added. Likewise the copyright of a compilation does not affect the rights
of the owner of the included works, only the compilation as an entity.
It is vitally important to understand that copyrights are broad protections
as defined by national and international copyright law. The "copyright
notices" usually included in source files are not copyrights, but rather
notices that a party asserts that they hold copyright to the material or
to part of the material. Typically these notices are associated with
license terms which grant permissions subject to copyright law and with
disclaimers that state the position of the copyright holder/distributor
with respect to liability surrounding use of the material.
By international law, specifically the Berne Convention for the
Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, part of the author's
copyright, the so-called moral rights, are inalienable. This
includes the author's right "to claim authorship of the work and
to object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of,
or other derogatory action in relation to, the said work, which
would be prejudicial to his honor or reputation". In some countries,
the law reserves additional inalienable moral rights to the author.
On the other hand, the author is free to transfer other parts
of his copyright, the so-called economic rights, in particular the
rights to use, copy, modify, distribute, and license the work.
<p class="purple">Permissions &mdash; the flip side</p>
Because copyrights arise from the creation of a work, rather than through
a registration process, there needs to be a practical way to extend
permission to use a work beyond what might be allowed by "fair use"
provisions of the copyright laws.
This permission typically takes the form of a "release" or "license"
included in the work, which grants the additional uses beyond those
granted by copyright law, usually subject to a variety of conditions.
At one extreme sits "public domain" where the originator asserts that
he imposes no restrictions on use of the material, at the other
restrictive clauses that actually grant no additional rights or impose
restrictive, discriminatory or impractical conditions on use of the work.
Note that a license is not to be confused with a copyright transfer.
While a transfer would give the new copyright holder <em>exclusive</em>
rights to use the code and take these rights away from the author,
a license typically grants <em>additional</em> people non-exclusive
rights to use the code, while the authors retain all their rights.
The above observations regarding moral rights imply that putting
code under an ISC or two-clause BSD license essentially makes the
code as free as it can possibly get. Modifying the wording of these
licenses can only result in one of the three following effects:
<ul class="list">
<li>making the code less free by adding additional restrictions
regarding its use, copying, modification or distribution;
<li>or effectively not changing anything by merely changing the wording,
but not changing anything substantial regarding the legal content;
<li>or making the license illegal by attempting to deprive the
authors of rights they cannot legally give away.
Again, an important point to note is that the release and conditions can
only apply to the portion of the work that was originated by the copyright
holder&mdash;the holder of a copyright on a derivative work can neither
grant additional permissions for use of the original work, nor impose more
restrictive conditions for use of that work.
Because copyright arises from the creation of a work and not the text
or a registration process, removing or altering a copyright notice or
associated release terms has no bearing on the existence of the copyright,
rather all that is accomplished is to cast doubt upon whatever rights the
person making the modifications had to use the material in the first place.
Likewise, adding terms and conditions in conflict with the original terms
and conditions does not supersede them, rather it casts doubts on the rights
of the person making the amendments to use the material and creates confusion
as to whether anyone can use the amended version or derivatives thereof.
Finally, releases are generally binding on the material that they
are distributed with. This means that if the originator of a work distributes
that work with a release granting certain permissions, those permissions
apply as stated, without discrimination, to all persons legitimately
possessing a copy of the work. That means that having granted a permission,
the copyright holder can not retroactively say that an individual or class
of individuals are no longer granted those permissions. Likewise should
the copyright holder decide to "go commercial" he can not revoke permissions
already granted for the use of the work as distributed, though he may impose
more restrictive permissions in his future distributions of that work.
<p class="purple">Specific Cases</p>
This section attempts to summarize the position of SecBSD relative to
some commonly encountered copyrights.
Again, an important point to note is that the release and conditions can
only apply to the portion of the work that was originated by the copyright
holder&mdash;the holder of a copyright on a derivative work can neither
grant additional permissions for use of the original work, nor impose more
restrictive conditions for use of that work.
The Berkeley copyright is the model for the SecBSD copyright. It retains
the rights of the copyright holder, while imposing minimal conditions on
the use of the copyrighted material. Material with Berkeley copyrights,
or copyrights closely adhering to the Berkeley model can generally be
included in SecBSD.
As part of its settlement with AT&amp;T, Berkeley included an
AT&amp;T copyright notice on some of the files in 4.4BSD lite and lite2.
The terms of this license are identical to the standard Berkeley license.
Additionally, SecBSD includes some other AT&amp;T code with non-restrictive
copyrights, such as the reference implementation of
<a href="https://github.com/onetrueawk/awk">awk</a>.
The original Unix code (AT&amp;T versions 1 through 7 UNIX, including 32V)
was freed by Caldera, Inc. on 23 January 2002 and is now available under a
<a href="http://www.tuhs.org/Archive/Caldera-license.pdf">4-term BSD-style license</a>.
As a result, it would theoretically be possible to incorporate original
Unix code into SecBSD. However, that code is now so old that it does not
satisfy today's interface and quality standards.
<dt>DEC, Sun, other manufacturers/software houses.<dd><p>
In general SecBSD does not include material copyrighted by manufacturers
or software houses. Material may be included where the copyright owner has
granted general permission for reuse without conditions, with terms similar
to the Berkeley copyright, or where the material is the product of an
employee and the employer's copyright notice effectively releases any
rights they might have to the work.
<dt>Carnegie-Mellon (CMU, Mach)<dd><p>
The Carnegie-Mellon copyright is similar to the Berkeley copyright, except
that it requests that derivative works be made available to Carnegie-Mellon.
Because this is only a request and not a condition, such material can still
be included in SecBSD. It should be noted that existing versions of Mach
are still subject to AT&amp;T copyrights, which prevents the general
distribution of Mach sources.
The original Apache license was similar to the Berkeley license,
but source code published under version 2 of the Apache license is
subject to additional restrictions and cannot be included into SecBSD.
In particular, if you use code under the Apache 2 license, some of
your rights will terminate if you claim in court that the code
violates a patent.
A license can only be considered fully permissive if it allows use
by anyone for all the future without giving up any of their rights.
If there are conditions that might terminate any rights in the
future, or if you have to give up a right that you would otherwise
have, even if exercising that right could reasonably be regarded
as morally objectionable, the code is not free.
Again, an important point to note is that the release and conditions can
only apply to the portion of the work that was originated by the copyright
holder&mdash;the holder of a copyright on a derivative work can neither
grant additional permissions for use of the original work, nor impose more
restrictive conditions for use of that work.
In addition, the clause about the patent license is problematic because
a patent license cannot be granted under Copyright law, but only under
contract law, which drags the whole license into the domain of contract
law. But while Copyright law is somewhat standardized by international
agreements, contract law differs wildly among jurisdictions. So what
the license means in different jurisdictions may vary and is hard to
The ISC copyright is functionally equivalent to a two-term BSD
copyright with language removed that is made unnecessary by the
Berne convention. This is the preferred license for new code
incorporated into SecBSD. A sample license is available in the file
<a href="license.template">license.template</a>.
<dt>GNU General Public License, GPL, LGPL, copyleft, etc.<dd><p>
The GNU Public License and licenses modeled on it impose the restriction
that source code must be distributed or made available for all works that
are derivatives of the GNU copyrighted code.
While this may superficially look like a noble strategy, it is a
condition that is typically unacceptable for commercial use of software.
So in practice, it usually ends up hindering free sharing and reuse
of code and ideas rather than encouraging it.
As a consequence, no additional software bound by the GPL terms
will be considered for inclusion into the SecBSD base system.
For historical reasons, the SecBSD base system still includes the
following GPL-licensed components: the GNU compiler collection (GCC)
with supporting binutils and libraries, GNU CVS, GNU texinfo,
the mkhybrid file system creation tool, and the
readline library. Replacement by equivalent, more freely licensed
tools is a long-term desideratum.
SecBSD is fully based on and evolved from OpenBSD.
The general OpenBSD license terms permit such use, copy, modify,
and distribute this software for any purpose.
OpenBSD license can generally be included in SecBSD.
Much of OpenBSD is originally based on and evolved from NetBSD, since some
of the OpenBSD developers were involved in the NetBSD project. The general
NetBSD license terms are compatible with the Berkeley license and permit
such use. Material subject <strong>only</strong> to the general NetBSD
license can generally be included in SecBSD.
Most of FreeBSD is also based on Berkeley licensed material or includes
copyright notices based on the Berkeley model. Such material can be
included in SecBSD, while those parts that are subject to GPL or
various individual copyright terms that are at odds with the SecBSD license
can not be included in SecBSD.
Most of Linux is subject to GPL style licensing terms and therefore
can not be included in SecBSD. Individual components may be eligible,
subject to the terms of the originator's copyright notices. Note that
Linux "distributions" may also be subject to additional copyright claims
of the distributing organization, either as a compilation or on material
included that is not part of the Linux core.
The X.Org Foundation maintains and distributes the X Window System
under a modified MIT license, which is quite similar to the BSD
license and additionally allows sublicensing. Under the name of
Xenocara, the SecBSD base system includes an improved and actively
maintained version of the X.Org code.
<dt>Shareware, Charityware, Freeware, etc.<dd><p>
Most "shareware" copyright notices impose conditions for redistribution,
use or visibility that are at conflict with the SecBSD project goals.
Review on a case-by-case basis is required as to whether the wording
of the conditions is acceptable in terms of conditions being requested vs.
demanded and whether the spirit of the conditions is compatible with
goals of the SecBSD project.
<dt>Public Domain<dd><p>
While material that is truly entered into the "public domain" can be
included in SecBSD, review is required on a case by case basis.
Frequently the "public domain" assertion is made by someone who does
not really hold all rights under copyright law to grant that status or
there are a variety of conditions imposed on use. For a work to be
truly in the "public domain" all rights are abandoned and the material
is offered without restrictions.
In some jurisdictions, it is doubtful whether voluntarily placing
one's own work into the public domain is legally possible.
For that reason, to make any substantial body of code free,
it is preferable to state the copyright and put it under an ISC
or BSD license instead of attempting to release it into the public