[linux-elitists] On the violation of BSD licensing

Don Marti dmarti@zgp.org
Wed Aug 20 18:16:30 PDT 2003

begin  Jonathan Corbet quotation of Wed, Aug 20, 2003 at 05:34:53PM -0600:

> In the middle of all my SoBig "virus notifications" I stumbled across a
> rather strongly worded message from a certain, highly vocal lead BSD
> developer.  I've been taken seriously to task for not stating that SCO is
> right; the incorporation of BSD-licensed code into the kernel without
> retaining the copyright header is indeed a violation of the company's
> copyright.  He seems to think this justifies SCO's entire case.

The only way to deal with any uncredited code or code incorporated
in violation of its license is to notify the person responsible
for the infringement or plagiarism.  This can be anything up to and
including a cease and desist letter.  Then credits can be altered,
code removed, and/or money paid, fixing the problem.

Example of a properly handled license issue:

The "you're infringing but we won't tell you where" ambush is
never justified, and it is strange that any programmer would fail
to condemn this.  Whether you write free or proprietary software,
you could use code, in good faith, that turned out to have a
license issue.

> Hypothesizing for the moment that such a thing has occurred, I think we
> would all agree that it should be fixed.  How might a development project
> go about finding the BSD-licensed source in its code base, so that it can
> be properly labelled?  Is this something the kernel hackers should make a
> point of doing before, say, 2.6.0 comes out?

The regular kernel hackers have other things to do, but someone
with interest in this could run the existing plagiarism detection
software over Linux and BSD code to find files that might be at
issue, and notify the maintainers.

The software and text similarity tester SIM

Plagiarism Detection - YAP

Plagiarism in natural and programming languages: an overview of current
tools and technologies

Don Marti                Reform copyright law -- return abandoned works
http://zgp.org/~dmarti   to the public domain after 50 years:
dmarti@zgp.org           http://www.PetitionOnline.com/eldred/petition.html

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