[Fedora-legal-list] "Old Style with legal disclaimer 4" MIT license
Tom "spot" Callaway
tcallawa at redhat.com
Fri Aug 21 18:06:18 UTC 2009
On 08/21/2009 01:17 PM, Tom Lane wrote:
> I also see that OSI's first page above notes that the "Simplified BSD
> License" is effectively equivalent to the MIT license, but they do not
> therefore lump them together.
They are "Effectively equivalent", from a GPL compatibility perspective,
and in the way that both licenses are permissive, but they are not in
any way, identical. This is why they are not lumped together.
> The reason I've got a problem with this is that "we use the BSD license"
> is part of the Postgres project's self-identity and self-description, to
> a degree perhaps not found elsewhere.
This is silly. We use the "License:" field to track actual licensing
data within Fedora, not any lies that upstream wishes to place in that
If you're unwilling to stand behind the truth, then feel free to defer
all flames around the fact that our license tag is accurate to me.
> I agree that "License: BSD" is not sufficiently detailed for Fedora's
> purposes, but it seems to me that that problem affects more than just
> Postgres. Perhaps the right way forward is to ask people to distinguish
> "4-clause BSD", "3-clause BSD", "2-clause BSD"; which I think covers
> the significant variations.
So, we already do this, in as much as the 4-clause BSD is "BSD with
advertising", and all other BSD variants are almost identical in
language and rights.
The MIT license, while similar in intent, is wholly different in both
language and rights.
As I've said to Josh Berkus in private, I am entirely unwilling to lie
about the license of the package simply because upstream is more
comfortable with the lie. If the PostgreSQL upstream wishes to continue
lying about about their own license to the world, I cannot prevent them.
There are four basic authorities on FOSS licensing in our community:
The FSF, the OSI, Debian, and Fedora. Every single one of these entities
agrees on what is the "BSD license":
FSF: http://www.xfree86.org/3.3.6/COPYRIGHT2.html#5 (linked from
Debian: http://www.debian.org/misc/bsd.license (linked from
In fact, every one of them also agrees on what is the "MIT license" (to
be fair, the FSF prefers it be referred to as the "X11 license"):
FSF: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html#X11License (They
refer to it as X11)
Debian: http://www.jclark.com/xml/copying.txt (linked from
If you compare the two licenses to the PostgreSQL license text:
Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this software and its
documentation for any purpose, without fee, and without a written
agreement is hereby granted, provided that the above copyright notice
and this paragraph and the following two paragraphs appear in all
IN NO EVENT SHALL THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA BE LIABLE TO ANY PARTY
FOR DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES,
INCLUDING LOST PROFITS, ARISING OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE AND ITS
DOCUMENTATION, EVEN IF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA HAS BEEN ADVISED OF
THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.
THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ANY WARRANTIES,
INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY
AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. THE SOFTWARE PROVIDED HEREUNDER
IS ON AN "AS IS" BASIS, AND THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA HAS NO
OBLIGATIONS TO PROVIDE MAINTENANCE, SUPPORT, UPDATES, ENHANCEMENTS, OR
It is clear that the PostgreSQL license is MIT. In fact, we have been
listing this exact text on the Fedora MIT page for some time now (added
in July 2008):
The fact that PostgreSQL came from UC Berkeley and that the text of the
PostgreSQL license was written by the University of California,
Berkeley, may make it a "Berkeley Systems License", but it does NOT make
it the "BSD license".
With all due respect to you and the PostgreSQL upstream, we're not about
to start lying about the licensing found on code, for anyone, or for any
reason. If the PostgreSQL community wants the Fedora packages to say
"License: BSD", then they have a single method to achieve that goal:
Relicense the code base under the terms of the "BSD license".
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