Theo Addresses Appropriation of BSD Atheros Code

This kind of situation is becoming too common: guy takes BSD code, makes a few changes, removes BSD license and copyright information, inserts GPL license information. In this case, it’s over a submitted but not yet included slightly modified OpenBSD Atheros driver for the Linux kernel. The problem isn’t the modification but the way the submitter stripped out the BSD license information and inserted GPL.

What’s wrong if both are “free licenses”? That presumes GPL is free. It isn’t. It’s a very restrictive software license.

Theo de Raadt Responds to License Modification:

GPL fans said the great problem we would face is that companies would take our BSD code, modify it, and not give back. Nope — the great problem we face is that people would wrap the GPL around our code, and lock us out in the same way that these supposed companies would lock us out. Just like the Linux community, we have many companies giving us code back, all the time. But once the code is GPL’d, we cannot get it back.


I hope some people in the GPL community will give that some thought. Your license may benefit you, but you could lose friends you need. The GPL users have an opportunity to ‘develop community’, to keep an ethic of sharing alive. If the Linux developers wrap GPL’s around things we worked very hard on, it will definately not be viewed as community development.


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