BSD licenses

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BSD licenses are a family of permissive free software licenses, imposing minimal restrictions on the redistribution of covered software. This is in contrast to copyleft licenses, which have reciprocity share-alike requirements. The original BSD license was used for its namesake, the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), a Unix-like operating system. The original version has since been revised and its descendants are more properly termed modified BSD licenses.

Terms[edit]

In addition to the original (4-clause) license used for BSD, several derivative licenses have emerged that are also commonly referred to as a "BSD license". Today, the typical BSD license is the 3-clause version, which is revised from the original 4-clause version.

In all BSD licenses as following, <organization> is the organization of the <copyright holder> or just the <copyright holder>, and <year> is the year of the copyright. As published in BSD, <copyright holder> is "Regents of the University of California", and <organization> is "University of California, Berkeley".

Previous license[edit]

Prior BSD License
Author Regents of the University of California
Publisher Public Domain
Published 1988
DFSG compatible Yes
FSF approved Yes
OSI approved No
GPL compatible No
Copyleft No
Linking from code with a different license Yes

Some releases of BSD prior to the adoption of the 4-clause BSD license used a license that is clearly ancestral to the 4-clause BSD license. These releases include 4.3BSD-Tahoe (1988) and Net/1 (1989). Though largely replaced by the 4-clause license, this license can be found in 4.3BSD-Reno, Net/2, and 4.4BSD-Alpha.

Copyright (c) <year> <copyright holder>.
All rights reserved.

Redistribution and use in source and binary forms are permitted
provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are
duplicated in all such forms and that any documentation,
advertising materials, and other materials related to such
distribution and use acknowledge that the software was developed
by the <organization>. The name of the
<organization> may not be used to endorse or promote products derived
from this software without specific prior written permission.
THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED ``AS IS'' AND WITHOUT ANY EXPRESS OR
IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, THE IMPLIED
WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

4-clause license (original "BSD License")[edit]

BSD License
Author Regents of the University of California
Publisher Public Domain
Published 1990
DFSG compatible Yes[1]
FSF approved Yes[2]
OSI approved No[3]
GPL compatible No[2]
Copyleft No[2]
Linking from code with a different license Yes

The original BSD license contained a clause not found in later licenses, known as the "advertising clause". This clause eventually became controversial, as it required authors of all works deriving from a BSD-licensed work to include an acknowledgment of the original source in all advertising material. This was clause number 3 in the original license text:[4]

Copyright (c) <year>, <copyright holder>
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 <organization>.
4. Neither the name of the <organization> nor the
   names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products
   derived from this software without specific prior written permission.

THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY <COPYRIGHT HOLDER> ''AS IS'' AND ANY
EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED
WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE
DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL <COPYRIGHT HOLDER> BE LIABLE FOR ANY
DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES
(INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES;
LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND
ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT
(INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS
SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.

This clause was objected to on the grounds that as people changed the license to reflect their name or organization it led to escalating advertising requirements when programs were combined together in a software distribution: every occurrence of the license with a different name required a separate acknowledgment. In arguing against it, Richard Stallman has stated that he counted 75 such acknowledgments in a 1997 version of NetBSD.[5] In addition, the clause presented a legal problem for those wishing to publish BSD-licensed software which relies upon separate programs using the GNU GPL: the advertising clause is incompatible with the GPL, which does not allow the addition of restrictions beyond those it already imposes; because of this, the GPL's publisher, the Free Software Foundation, recommends developers not use the license, though it states there is no reason not to use software already using it.[2]

Today, this original license is now sometimes called "BSD-old" or "4-clause BSD".

3-clause license ("Revised BSD License", "New BSD License", or "Modified BSD License")[edit]

New BSD License
Author Regents of the University of California
Publisher Public Domain
Published 22 July 1999[4]
DFSG compatible Yes[1]
FSF approved Yes[6]
OSI approved Yes[3]
GPL compatible Yes[6]
Copyleft No[6]
Linking from code with a different license Yes

The advertising clause was removed from the license text in the official BSD on 22 July 1999 by William Hoskins, Director of the Office of Technology Licensing for UC Berkeley.[4][7] Other BSD distributions removed the clause, but many similar clauses remain in BSD-derived code from other sources, and unrelated code using a derived license.

While the original license is sometimes referred to as "BSD-old", the resulting 3-clause version is sometimes referred to by "BSD-new." Other names include "New BSD", "revised BSD", "BSD-3", or "3-clause BSD". This version has been vetted as an Open source license by the OSI as "The BSD License".[3] The Free Software Foundation, which refers to the license as the "Modified BSD License", states that it is compatible with the GNU GPL. The FSF encourages users to be specific when referring to the license by name (i.e. not simply referring to it as "a BSD license" or "BSD-style") to avoid confusion with the original BSD license.[6]

This version allows unlimited redistribution for any purpose as long as its copyright notices and the license's disclaimers of warranty are maintained. The license also contains a clause restricting use of the names of contributors for endorsement of a derived work without specific permission.

Copyright (c) <year>, <copyright holder>
All rights reserved.

Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:
    * Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
      notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
    * 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.
    * Neither the name of the <organization> nor the
      names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products
      derived from this software without specific prior written permission.

THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND CONTRIBUTORS "AS IS" AND
ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED
WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE
DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL <COPYRIGHT HOLDER> BE LIABLE FOR ANY
DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES
(INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES;
LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND
ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT
(INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS
SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.

2-clause license ("Simplified BSD License" or "FreeBSD License")[edit]

"FreeBSD License" redirects here. For documentation, see FreeBSD Documentation License.
See also: ISC license and MIT License
Simplified BSD License
Author The FreeBSD Project
Publisher Public Domain
Published ?
DFSG compatible Yes
FSF approved Yes[8]
OSI approved Yes[3]
GPL compatible Yes[8]
Copyleft No[8]
Linking from code with a different license Yes

An even more simplified version has come into use, primarily known for its usage in FreeBSD.[9] The primary difference between it and the New BSD (3-clause) License is that it omits the non-endorsement clause. It also adds a further disclaimer about views and opinions expressed in the software. The Free Software Foundation, which refers to the license as the FreeBSD License, states that it is compatible with the GNU GPL. In addition, the FSF encourages users to be specific when referring to the license by name (i.e. not simply referring to it as "a BSD license" or "BSD-style"), as it does with the modified/new BSD license, to avoid confusion with the original BSD license.[8]

Copyright (c) <year>, <copyright holder>
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.

THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND CONTRIBUTORS "AS IS" AND
ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED
WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE
DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE COPYRIGHT OWNER OR CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR
ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES
(INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES;
LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND
ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT
(INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS
SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.

The views and conclusions contained in the software and documentation are those
of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing official policies,
either expressed or implied, of the FreeBSD Project.

Other projects, such as NetBSD, use a similar 2-clause license, but without the additional disclaimer.[10] This version has been vetted as an Open source license by the OSI as the "Simplified BSD License."[3]

The ISC license is functionally equivalent, and endorsed by the OpenBSD project as a license template for new contributions.[11]

License compatibility[edit]

Main article: License compatibility

Commercial license compatibility[edit]

The FreeBSD project argues on the advantages of BSD-style licenses for companies and commercial use-cases due to their license compatibility with proprietary licenses and general flexibility. The BSD-style licenses place only "minimal restrictions on future behavior" and aren't "legal time-bombs", unlike copyleft licenses.[12] The BSD License allows proprietary use and allows the software released under the license to be incorporated into proprietary products. Works based on the material may be released under a proprietary license as closed source software, allowing usual commercial usages under.

FOSS compatibility[edit]

The 3-clause BSD license has, like most permissive licenses, an excellent license compatibility and is compatible with almost all FOSS licenses (and as well proprietary licenses).[13][14]

Two variants of the license, the New BSD License/Modified BSD License (3-clause),[6] and the Simplified BSD License/FreeBSD License (2-clause)[8] have been verified as GPL-compatible free software licenses by the Free Software Foundation, and have been vetted as open source licenses by the Open Source Initiative.[3] The original, 4-clause BSD license has not been accepted as an open source license and, although the original is considered to be a free software license by the FSF, the FSF does not consider it to be compatible with the GPL due to the advertising clause.[2]

Reception and usage[edit]

The BSD license family is one of the oldest and broadly used license family in the FOSS ecosystem. Also, many new licenses were derived or inspired by the BSD licenses. Many FOSS software projects use a BSD license, for instance the BSD OS family (FreeBSD etc.), Google's Bionic or Toybox. As of 2015 the BSD 3-clause license ranked in popularity number five according to Black Duck Software[15] and sixth according to GitHub data.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "License information". Debian. Retrieved 18 February 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Original BSD license". Various Licenses and Comments about Them. Free Software Foundation. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "The BSD License:Licensing". Open Source Initiative. Archived from the original on 29 November 2009. Retrieved 6 December 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c "To All Licensees, Distributors of Any Version of BSD". University of California, Berkeley. 1999-07-22. Retrieved 2006-11-15. 
  5. ^ Richard Stallman. "The BSD License Problem". Free Software Foundation. Archived from the original on 12 November 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-15. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Modified BSD license". Various Licenses and Comments about Them. Free Software Foundation. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  7. ^ Comparing the BSD and GPL Licenses on Technology Innovation Management Review by Bruce Montague (on October 2007)
  8. ^ a b c d e "FreeBSD license". Various Licenses and Comments about Them. Free Software Foundation. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  9. ^ "The FreeBSD Copyright". The FreeBSD Project. Archived from the original on 25 November 2009. Retrieved 6 December 2009. 
  10. ^ "NetBSD Licensing and Redistribution". The NetBSD Foundation. Retrieved 6 December 2009. 
  11. ^ "OpenBSD Copyright Policy". Retrieved 2016-07-17. 
  12. ^ Montague, Bruce (2013-11-13). "Why you should use a BSD style license for your Open Source Project - GPL Advantages and Disadvantages". FreeBSD. Retrieved 2015-11-28. In contrast to the GPL, which is designed to prevent the proprietary commercialization of Open Source code, the BSD license places minimal restrictions on future behavior. This allows BSD code to remain Open Source or become integrated into commercial solutions, as a project's or company's needs change. In other words, the BSD license does not become a legal time-bomb at any point in the development process. In addition, since the BSD license does not come with the legal complexity of the GPL or LGPL licenses, it allows developers and companies to spend their time creating and promoting good code rather than worrying if that code violates licensing. 
  13. ^ Hanwell, Marcus D. (28 Jan 2014). "Should I use a permissive license? Copyleft? Or something in the middle?". opensource.com. Retrieved 2015-05-30. Permissive licensing simplifies things One reason the business world, and more and more developers [...], favor permissive licenses is in the simplicity of reuse. The license usually only pertains to the source code that is licensed and makes no attempt to infer any conditions upon any other component, and because of this there is no need to define what constitutes a derived work. I have also never seen a license compatibility chart for permissive licenses; it seems that they are all compatible. 
  14. ^ "Licence Compatibility and Interoperability". Open-Source Software - Develop, share, and reuse open source software for public administrations. joinup.ec.europa.eu. Retrieved 2015-05-30. The licences for distributing free or open source software (FOSS) are divided in two families: permissive and copyleft. Permissive licences (BSD, MIT, X11, Apache, Zope) are generally compatible and interoperable with most other licences, tolerating to merge, combine or improve the covered code and to re-distribute it under many licences (including non-free or “proprietary”). 
  15. ^ "Top 20 licenses". Black Duck Software. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 19 November 2015. 1. MIT license 24%, 2. GNU General Public License (GPL) 2.0 23%, 3. Apache License 16%, 4. GNU General Public License (GPL) 3.0 9%, 5. BSD License 2.0 (3-clause, New or Revised) License 6%, 6. GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 2.1 5%, 7. Artistic License (Perl) 4%, 8. GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 3.0 2%, 9. Microsoft Public License 2%, 10. Eclipse Public License (EPL) 2% 
  16. ^ Balter, Ben (2015-03-09). "Open source license usage on GitHub.com". github.com. Retrieved 2015-11-21. "1 MIT 44.69%, 2 Other 15.68%, 3 GPLv2 12.96%, 4 Apache 11.19%, 5 GPLv3 8.88%, 6 BSD 3-clause 4.53%, 7 Unlicense 1.87%, 8 BSD 2-clause 1.70%, 9 LGPLv3 1.30%, 10 AGPLv3 1.05% 

External links[edit]