[ros-users] BSD license questions

Gary Bradski bradski at willowgarage.com
Sat Feb 12 23:31:41 UTC 2011

Of course, when asking legal questions of a user's group, the resulting
advice is worth at best exactly what you paid for and at worst, there's not
bottom limit.

Now let me tell you my half-cocked <= $0.0 interpretation.

Yes, the BSD language isn't completely clear and could be read in a way that
BSD is a bad bad viral license invalidating and making free anything you've
ever done or thought of doing. You will find user group discussions to this
effect if you spend too much time on the web as do I.

However, the clear and commonly understood intent of the BSD license is:
Make hay!  Use and abuse the code any way you want.

Many big companies with their buildings of bored corporate lawyers seem to
use BSD and interpret it in the make hay way.  Berkeley itself holds this
view (so I've read by someone who's grandmother told her that she heard it
from someone who knew). I suspect that most uses of BSD code doesn't even
include the BSD conditions.  A bunch of things that use OpenCV don't include
the BSD verbiage and one day I intend to hold absolutely ... none of them
accountable. I can't speak for the ROS developers, but I've seen them
shudder with religious ecstasy every time someone even thinks about using
ROS ... so I'm guessing they'll let BSD slide.


On Fri, Feb 11, 2011 at 10:11 AM, Nicholas Butko <nbutko at ucsd.edu> wrote:

> I have a general question about BSD licenses for statically compiled
> libraries.
> The BSD license states, among other things,
> {{{
> Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
> modification,
> are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:
>    ...
>   * Redistribution's 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.
> }}}
> Is shipping an executable that statically links portions of a BSD library
> "redistribution"? Does the BSD license agreement need to incorporated in
> that case?
> The above clause is meant to apply to the library. However, when using
> statically linked libraries, they become incorporated into a larger binary,
> which is usually not redistributable.
> How are these cases usually interpreted?
> --Nick
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