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#1 2013-07-09 22:21:25

Unia
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From: The Netherlands
Registered: 2010-03-30
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[Solved] Question about licensing

Hello all,

I'm not sure if this is the right section, but I thought this at least fits better than the Programming subforum.

I am currently working on a volumeicon meant to be in the system tray. Initially, I started out with Fogobogo's gtk-vol which is licensed under the BSD license.

However, the code has now substantially changed. I would go so far as to say that I only kept some function and variable names, other than that you won't see the relation between the two programs. But still, my code is based on it. Thus, my question: do I need to include the BSD license or am I now free to use whatever license I want? (GPL) Or: should/could I use both?

For the record, in the initial program, Fogobogo did not state the usual Copyright (C) Fogobogo 2011. Does this matter any?

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by Unia (2013-07-17 13:35:33)


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#2 2013-07-09 22:36:36

ewaller
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Re: [Solved] Question about licensing

Since I am not looking at the code (nor do I intend to), I can only offer generalities.

It is risky.   As a sanity check, suppose you were to step into Fogobogo's shoes.  Would you see things the same way from their point of view?
Why don't you drop them a courtesy email?  They may not care. They may be really, really touchy.


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#3 2013-07-10 08:27:02

Unia
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Re: [Solved] Question about licensing

I would do that, but there is no email adress available on his GitHub.

Can I use both licenses? E.g. tell people that my code is based on gtk-vol and that those parts are BSD licensed, whilst the other (my) parts are under the GPL?


If you can't sit by a cozy fire with your code in hand enjoying its simplicity and clarity, it needs more work. --Carlos Torres

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#4 2013-07-10 08:47:02

jasonwryan
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Re: [Solved] Question about licensing

fogobogo shows up here from time to time: https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=130202


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#5 2013-07-10 12:30:15

Trilby
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From: Massachusetts, USA
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Re: [Solved] Question about licensing

Unia wrote:

For the record, in the initial program, Fogobogo did not state the usual Copyright (C) Fogobogo 2011. Does this matter any?

This doesn't matter at all.  There used to be a requirement for such a notification, but that has long since been removed.  Copyright is now implied.

If there was any doubt, the copyright is clearly asserted by providing a license (BSD in this case).

But a more fundamental question is why you would want to cheat someone out of their due credit.  You seem to be talking of formalities of how much the code has changed - this seems to focus too much on the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law (actually it may violate the letter of the law too).  If fogobogo's work was a noteworthy inspiration for your own, that should be noted.  Legality is only one issue, giving credit to the work that inspired/guided/helped you along the way is just the right thing do do.

Take a look at my copyright notice in alopex for example.  N. Welch (TinyWM) is the only one I took any actual code from, and there probably isn't any of it actually left - but it was the starting point on which I build everything else.  It was bootstrap code: I started with that, added a lot, then removed most of what was initially there.  The point is, though, that without Nick's code, I would have never been able to write alopex.  Also he has released TinyWM into the public domain, so I have no official requirement to acknowledge him at all, even if I kept all of his code.  I also credit dwm and i3 authors - I didn't use any actual code directly from those projects, though I studied dwm's code and in inspired the general structure of my code - I never even looked at i3's code, there's just too much of it.

You're asking what you can do - but just because you can, doesn't mean you should.  Err on the side of giving credit to those whose work has contributed to your own, then you be doing the right thing and you'll be pretty much ensured to be 'legal'.

If it were me, I'd use both licenses with the simple note that some of the code originated from, or was inspired by fogobogo's project licensed under the BSD license.

Last edited by Trilby (2013-07-10 12:33:13)


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#6 2013-07-10 13:28:20

Unia
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Re: [Solved] Question about licensing

I'm not stating that I won't give credit to Fogobogo, indeed I will and I will always mention where my idea or say a bug fix originally came from. Whether or not to give credit to someone was never part of this question.

In my point of view, giving credit does not mean having to use / using the same license. I don't want to use the BSD license for my own code, which is why I am asking of I can 1) ignore it since my code is much different than the original (if I were to change my function and variable names to something else, you probably won't even notice what is once was) or 2) use both licenses.

I will see if I can get in touch with Fogobogo himself, that for now seems like the best way to get an answer.


If you can't sit by a cozy fire with your code in hand enjoying its simplicity and clarity, it needs more work. --Carlos Torres

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#7 2013-07-10 13:31:36

Trilby
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Re: [Solved] Question about licensing

Sorry, you're right - I did go a bit afield until the very end of my post.


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#8 2013-07-10 13:38:18

Unia
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Re: [Solved] Question about licensing

Trilby wrote:

Sorry, you're right - I did go a bit afield until the very end of my post.

It's alright, I still appreciate your input. I'm currently trying to get into contact with Fogobogo, I got an email adress off of his forum account which I hope still works. If not, I might open an Issue on his GitHub or PM him on the forums. Other than that, I can not see a way to get in touch with him. We'll see...


If you can't sit by a cozy fire with your code in hand enjoying its simplicity and clarity, it needs more work. --Carlos Torres

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#9 2013-07-16 02:17:22

cfr
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Re: [Solved] Question about licensing

I think that the fact that people wouldn't notice, even if true, isn't really the point. Giving credit is important but so is respecting the conditions under which you had access to the code. It is because the author released the code under BSD that you were able to use it at all. That is, that licence gave you the freedom to do that. Disrespecting the conditions under which you acquired the code is problematic, I think, even if not technically illegal and certainly if just a matter of nobody will know.

Again, turn it around. If somebody took your code and changed it enough that nobody would see the similarity, changing function names etc. to make it less obvious, and then used it to build closed-source software or software licensed under a non-GPL compatible licence, would you feel that your good faith sharing had been betrayed? Does it matter if you wouldn't know, even?

EDIT: It matters which BSD licence, too. The original BSD licence is incompatible with GPL so you couldn't mix the licences. But the modified BSD licence is compatible, for example.

EDIT EDIT: I see it is modified BSD.

Last edited by cfr (2013-07-16 02:27:47)


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#10 2013-07-16 03:35:49

Xyne
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Re: [Solved] Question about licensing

This is basically the question of Theseus's ship, except that instead of replacing each bit as it was, you end up with a house or a wagon as the years go by. At what point does it cease to be the ship, if it ceases at all?

There is a difference between derivation and inspiration. At some point if you completely overhaul the original then I would say that it becomes fully yours. Whether or not that is the case is another matter and depends on whether you have included non-trivial code. If not then I would be inclined to simply mention the source of inspiration.

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#11 2013-07-17 13:35:17

Unia
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Re: [Solved] Question about licensing

I do not have time to read replies - only one minute WiFi.

I contacted Fogobogo and he gave permission to use whatever license I see fit. Thanks for your help!


If you can't sit by a cozy fire with your code in hand enjoying its simplicity and clarity, it needs more work. --Carlos Torres

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#12 2013-07-17 16:40:44

Awebb
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Registered: 2010-05-06
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Re: [Solved] Question about licensing

This is the best way to solve this. I think people releasing under BSD licenses are generally a bit more liberal about what happens to their code, but this is not a rule by any means.

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#13 2013-07-17 17:39:19

alphaniner
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From: Ancapistan
Registered: 2010-07-12
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Re: [Solved] Question about licensing

Wow, I always thought the BSDL was practically DWTFYW (not to be confused with WTFPL) and allowed wholesale relicensing.


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#14 2013-07-20 16:50:54

Unia
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From: The Netherlands
Registered: 2010-03-30
Posts: 2,469
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Re: [Solved] Question about licensing

I'm now back home and read cfr's and Xyne's replies. Apologies that I had to ignore those earlier, I did not mean to come across disrespectful.

I appreciate all the input I've gotten. It will certainly come in handy again in another future project.


If you can't sit by a cozy fire with your code in hand enjoying its simplicity and clarity, it needs more work. --Carlos Torres

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