New License Request: Zero Clause BSD

Rob Landley rob at landley.net
Sat Jun 20 19:42:42 UTC 2015


On 06/20/2015 05:12 AM, Sam Ellis wrote:
> Despite it being called BSD-style I actually think it is more reminiscent of MIT license.

It was a 2 clause OpenBSD license linked as "License Template" from the
top of http://www.openbsd.org/policy.html with half a sentence removed
(ala https://github.com/landley/toybox/commit/ee86b1d8e25c).

We've been calling it zero clause BSD because it was derived from the 2
clause OpenBSD license, and we plan to continue to call it that if SPDX
rejects the request.

> BSD licenses often start with "Redistribution and use..." (https://spdx.org/licenses/BSD-2-Clause.html).
> MIT licenses often start with "Permission is hereby granted..." (http://spdx.org/licenses/MIT.html).

Functionally this is a public domain equivalent license and those
aren't, so this is _functionally_ very different from either of them and
closer to unlicense or wtfpl.

It's called "zero clause bsd" to highlight that it does not contain any
license text or requirements _not_ in a license used by one of the major
BSD distros, and is in fact identical to that license except for half a
sentence that removes the requirement separating BSD from public domain.
We chose license text derived from one of the BSDs and modified _only_
with a single deletion to make a wider range of people comfortable with
the license: if your legal department is ok with OpenBSD, clearing this
variant should be easier than reviewing a whole new license.

MIT and ISC are also similar to BSD licenses, but nobody outside of
licensing geeks has ever heard of them. "Derived from a BSD license"
communicates information to far more laypeople than "derived from an ISC
license" would.

(The "zero clause" part is to indicate that you are not tied to specific
license text when chopping code out of this project and reusing it
elsewhere, I.E. it functions as a public domain license in that regard.)

> The original license that this one derives from
>
(https://github.com/landley/toybox/blob/c2806decbff81cc05e107a9091042f01ad61dc13/LICENSE)
> looks very clearly MIT to me

According to OpenBSD their license is "modeled after ISC":

http://cvsweb.openbsd.org/cgi-bin/cvsweb/src/share/misc/license.template?rev=HEAD

  Below is an example license to be used for new code in OpenBSD,
  modeled after the ISC license.

But "license to be used for new code in OpenBSD" makes it a BSD license
in my book. Of the half-dozen BSD license variants I looked at this was
the simplest, but I wouldn't have used it if it _wasn't_ a BSD license.

> (compare with https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Licensing:MIT?rd=Licensing/MIT#Old_Style_with_legal_disclaimer_2).
> 
> So I guess there is a difference between how I would classify this versus how
> it is actually known in the wild.

I consider the license OpenBSD uses for new code to be a BSD license.
They also seem to think it's their license*. The toybox license is
derived from that license so that people comfortable with "BSD licensed
code" can be comfortable with toybox's license without significant
further explanation.

Rob

* Ok, whoever wrote up openbsd's copyright policy page refers to "The
Berkeley Copyright" and "The OpenBSD Copyright" when talking about
licenses, but the actual license.template gets it right.

> ________________________________________
> From: spdx-legal-bounces at lists.spdx.org [spdx-legal-bounces at lists.spdx.org] On Behalf Of Rob Landley [rob at landley.net]
> Sent: 15 June 2015 17:59
> To: spdx-legal at lists.spdx.org
> Subject: New License Request: Zero Clause BSD
> 
>> Submission Requirements:
>>
>>    Provide a proposed Full Name for the license or exception.
> 
> BSD 0-clause "Public Domain Equivalent" License.
> 
>>    Provide a proposed Short Identifier.
> 
> BSD-0-Clause
> 
>>    Provide a functioning url reference to the license or exception
>> text, either from the author or a community recognized source.
> 
> http://landley.net/toybox/license.html
> 
>>    Create and attach a text file with the license or exception text
>> from the url provided in #3. Please proofread the text file to ensure
>> that:
>>        Information has not been lost or modified.
>>        Formatting is clean and consistent with the license or
>> exception URL.
> 
> Copyright 2015 by Your Name Here <your at email.here>
> 
> Permission to use, copy, modify, and/or distribute this software for any
> purpose with or without fee is hereby granted.
> 
> THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS" AND THE AUTHOR DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES
> WITH REGARD TO THIS SOFTWARE INCLUDING ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF
> MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHOR BE LIABLE FOR
> ANY SPECIAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OR ANY DAMAGES
> WHATSOEVER RESULTING FROM LOSS OF USE, DATA OR PROFITS, WHETHER IN AN
> ACTION OF CONTRACT, NEGLIGENCE OR OTHER TORTIOUS ACTION, ARISING OUT OF
> OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OR PERFORMANCE OF THIS SOFTWARE.
> 
>>    Indicate whether the license is OSI-approved [Yes/No] (see:
>> http://www.opensource.org/licenses/alphabetical). If yes, provide
>> link to the OSI license and verify that it is the same text as
>> supplied in #4.
> 
> No.
> 
> (I Haven't submitted it to them because they haven't got unlicense, cc0,
> or wtfpl either. Apparently public domain equivalent is not considered
> "open source" by those guys?)
> 
>>    Provide a short explanation regarding the need for this license or
>> exception to be included on the SPDX License List, including
>> identifying at least one program that uses this license.
> 
> This is the license used by Toybox, which was merged into android and
> tizen. Other projects are considering it, which is why SPDX was suggested.
> 
> The above URL has a "Why 0BSD?" section, cut and pasted here (minus the
> embedded links):
> 
> Why 0BSD?
> 
> As with CC0, unlicense, and wtfpl, the intent is to place the licensed
> material into the public domain, which after decades of FUD (such as the
> time OSI's ex-lawyer compared placing code into the public domain to
> abandoning trash by the side of a highway) is considered somehow unsafe.
> But if some random third party takes public domain code and slaps some
> other license on it, then it's fine.
> 
> To work around this perception, the above license is a standard 2-clause
> BSD license minus the half sentence requiring text copied verbatim into
> derived works. If 2BSD is ok, the 0BSD should be ok, despite being
> equivalent to placing code in the public domain.
> 
> Modifying the license in this way avoids the hole android toolbox fell
> into where 33 copies of BSD license text were concatenated together when
> copyright dates changed, or the strange solution the busybox developers
> used to resolve tension between GPLv2's "no additional restrictions" and
> BSD's "you must include this large hunk of text" by sticking the two
> licenses at opposite ends of the file and hoping nobody noticed.
> 
> -- IMPORTANT NOTICE: The contents of this email and any attachments are confidential and may also be privileged. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender immediately and do not disclose the contents to any other person, use it for any purpose, or store or copy the information in any medium.  Thank you.
> 
> ARM Limited, Registered office 110 Fulbourn Road, Cambridge CB1 9NJ, Registered in England & Wales, Company No:  2557590
> ARM Holdings plc, Registered office 110 Fulbourn Road, Cambridge CB1 9NJ, Registered in England & Wales, Company No:  2548782
> 
> 


More information about the Spdx-legal mailing list