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License compliance issues could affect all BSD-derived distributions

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The Gentoo/FreeBSD project, which combines the FreeBSD kernel with Gentoo Linux design principles, is in a fix. Its lead developer, Diego "Flameeyes" Pettenò, discovered licensing issues while working on the libkvm library and the start-stop-daemon -- and Pettenò says that the problem might not be limited to his project, but could trap other BSD-derived projects as well.

"The licensing trouble began," says Pettenò, "when I looked up the license under which libkvm was released, as I was going to link into a GPLv2 software (portage-utils, a Gentoo-specific utilities package), and I found it using the four-clause BSD license (the original one, basically). When I looked up what else was using it, I found we were already redistributing a binary handled under GPLv2 license that could cause us issues." He immediately stopped public distribution of the project's files.

The license in question is the original BSD license, which was in use till 1999. One of its clauses, notoriously known as the advertising clause, requires all advertisements mentioning the software to include an acknowledgment sentence that credits the University of California, Berkeley, and its contributors for their efforts. This wasn't much of an issue until other developers started modifying the statement to credit themselves for their modifications. This becomes a headache when software with the same clause makes its way into an operating system like Gentoo/FreeBSD. In effect, it requires Gentoo/FreeBSD to reproduce every credit statement in all their advertisements.

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re: Credit arguments did appear on Tuxmachines

Yeah, there was a big one one time over a distro develper that was accused of little more than copying (rebranding) another. It was ugly. In the end I unpublished most of the controversial content and comments, which kinda goes against my grain. But all parties agreed to that resolution, so what else can ya do.

You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

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