Licenses again...

Matthew Dillon dillon at
Mon Sep 17 22:37:25 PDT 2007

:But does the BSDL allow the code to be relicensed? ie. i am a GPL dev, and i 
:take a file ftp.c which is BSD licensed. Can I wrap the code in GPL license 
:(though preserving the BSD copyright and license in there)?
:The BSD license doesn't indicate that this is allowed.

    Commercial entities have used BSD licensed code for almost 30 years.
    Microsoft includes an FTP with BSD code in it in their distribution,
    for example, and this is perfectly acceptable.  Microsoft's product,
    as a whole, operates under a far more restrictive license and there
    is no conflict.  The BSD license was intended to allow this.  There
    is no question about that.

    But how do we interpret, say, a source file that is under the BSD
    license then modified by a second developer who adds the GPL?  Both
    licenses would then be present in the source file (the BSD license
    cannot be removed, except by the original author, so both would be

    Clearly the BSD license does not disallow the modifications made
    by the second developer to be placed under some other license.
    The BSD license only covers the BSD-licensed code.  The question is
    how should a third party interpret the modified source file as a
    whole?  I do not know the answer to that.

    Theo made a point of stating that he thought it meant that the BSD
    license completely trumped the GPL but Theo is no more a lawyer then
    I am so all I can do is throw up my hands and say 'I don't know'.

					Matthew Dillon 
					<dillon at>

More information about the Users mailing list