The OpenBSD project maintains a six month release cycle, with the upcoming 4.2 release officially scheduled for November 1'st. Each release includes a song relevant to current issues faced by the project. For this release the song is titled "100001 1010101", about which OpenBSD creator Theo de Raadt notes, "it is designed to sound like a mid-era Rush song, ie. something from Grace Under Pressure or such. And there's a few easter eggs hidden in the song as well. It also explains the inside sleeve image..." The referenced image shows a marathon between some of the different operating system mascots, running a a race through often hostile looking surroundings, fraught with distractions. Toward the bottom is an obvious reference to the recent issue of relicensing BSD code under the GPL, in which Puffy, the OpenBSD mascot, shows a map to Tux, the Linux mascot, and the latter takes off with it. The OpenBSD lyrics page explains that BSD code is shared with all, even non-open-sourced projects who respect the license and frequently return code, "we fully admit that some BSD licensed software has been taken and used by many commercial entities, but contributions come back more often than people seem to know, and when they do, they're always still properly attributed to the original authors, and given back in the same spirit that they were given in the first place." Theo noted, "that's the best we can expect from companies," going on to add, "but we can expect more from projects who talk about sharing -- such as the various Linux projects." He explained:
"Now rather than seeing us as friends who can cooperatively improve all codebases, we are seen as foes who oppose the GPL. The participants of "the race" are being manipulated by the FSF and their legal arm, the SFLC, for the FSF's aims, rather than the goal of getting good source into Linux (and all other code bases). We don't want this to come off as some conspiracy theory, but we simply urge those developers caution -- they should ensure that the path they are being shown by those who have positioned themselves as leaders is still true. Run for yourself, not for their agenda.
"The Race is there to be run, for ourselves, not for others. We do what we do to run our own race, and finish it the best we can. We don't rush off at every distraction, or worry how this will affect our image. We are here to have fun doing right."
"Based on the new guidelines posted by the SFLC on 'Maintaining Permissive-Licensed Files in a GPL-Licensed Project: Guidelines for Developers', specifically section 5, we are introducing a new tag for use with patches which deal with files licensed under permissive licenses (BSD, ISC) on Linux wireless in our larger GPL project, the Linux kernel," explained Luis Rodriguez in an email titled, "new 'Changes-licensed-under' tag introduced for Linux-wireless". The web pages linked in the email appear to be an official response by the SFLC regarding the recent BSD vs. GPL licensing controversy surrounding the Atheros wireless device driver. Luis continued:
"Although some developers have a practice of implying their patches for a permissive licensed file abides by the respective permissive license of the file being patched, and although some changes are obviously not copyrightable, we would like to 'err on the side of caution', take the advice from SFLC, and introduce Changes-licensed-under in order to help the BSD family reap benefits of our contributions to permissive licensed files."
There were only a few brief replies to Luis' email. Stephen Hemminger suggested a simpler solution, "no, please don't [go] down this legal rat hole. It would cause bullshit like people submitting dual licensed patches to the scheduler or GPL only patches to the ath5k or ACPI code. Instead, add a section to
Documentation/SubmittingPatches that clearly states that all changes to a file are licensed under the same license as the original file." Krzysztof Halasa pointed out that this was already the case, quoting a line from the Developer's Certificate of Origin contained in the
SubmittingPatches file which says, "the contribution was created in whole or in part by me and I have the right to submit it under the open source license indicated in the file".
"We, the MadWifi team, announce our decision to move away from the binary-only HAL and change the focus of our future development towards ath5k, a completely free (as in freedom) driver which will eventually become an integral part of the Linux kernel," Michael Renzmann posted to the MadWifi development mailing list. The decision comes during continued debate surrounding what is and what is not allowed by the BSD license, and with no official statement yet from the SFLC. Much of the debate was due to an attempt to release BSD licensed files under the GPL, visible for example in the ath5k_hw.c source file which is still labeled as available "under the terms of the GNU General Public License" in the latest version of the file checked into the source repository linked from the MadWifi project page. It appears that actual development of the ath5k driver has been moved to Linville's git tree, where the license is now purely BSD, though debate remains as to what's required to be able to add additional copyrights to source code as have been added to the reverse engineered HAL code originally written by Reyk Floeter. In an earlier confrontation with Atheros, the work done by Reyk was determined to be free of copyright infringement:
"A driver for Atheros wireless cards is available in OpenBSD that talks directly to the hardware, based on reverse engineering efforts done by Reyk Floeter. Relevant parts of the driver have been ported to Linux by Nick Kossifidis to start OpenHAL, a free (as in freedom) replacement of the proprietary HAL. Claims that the OpenBSD driver (and thus also OpenHAL) contains stolen code slowed down the OpenHAL efforts but finally could be voided. The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), with the help of Atheros, performed a thorough code review and concluded "that OpenHAL does not infringe copyrights held by Atheros". In other words, the way is clear now for the inclusion of an OpenHAL-based driver into the Linux kernel."
As the Atheros driver issue continues to simmer on the OpenBSD -misc mailing list and the Linux Kernel mailing list, with debate continuing over when the license of source code can be altered or added to, Eben Moglen made a statement for the Software Freedom Law Center. He began by defending their own actions, "it might be useful to recall the first stage of this process, when OpenBSD developers were accused of misappropriating Atheros code, and SFLC investigated and proved that no such misappropriation had occurred? Wild accusations about our motives are even more silly than they are false." He went on to acknowledge, "we understand that attribution issues are critically important to free software developers; we are accustomed to the strong feelings that are involved in such situations. In the fifteen years I have spent giving free legal help to developers throughout the community, attribution disputes have been, always, the most emotionally charged." He added that the SFLC would be making no further statements until their work on this matter was complete, noting:
"Also, and again for the last time, let me state that SFLC's instructions from its clients are to establish all the facts concerning the development of the current relevant code (which means the painstaking reconstruction of several independent and overlapping lines of development, including forensic reconstruction through line-by-line code reviews where version control system information is not available), as well as to resolve all outstanding legal issues, and to make policy recommendations, if possible, that would result in all projects, under both GPL and ISC, having full access to all code on their preferred terms, on an *ongoing* basis, with full respect for everyone's legal rights. We continue to believe those policy goals are achievable in this situation. The required work has been made more arduous because some people have chosen not to cooperate in good faith. But we will complete the work as soon as we can, and we will, as Mr Garvik says, follow the community's practice of complete publication, so everyone can see all the evidence."
"Reyk and I have decided to show something from the private handling of this Atheros copyright violation issue," OpenBSD creator Theo de Raadt began in a posting to the OpenBSD -misc mailing list referring to the recent relicensing of OpenBSD's BSD licensed Atheros driver under the GPL. He noted, "it has been like pulling teeth since (most) Linux wireless guys and the SFLC do not wish to admit fault. I think that the Linux wireless guys should really think hard about this problem, how they look, and the legal risks they place upon the future of their source code bodies." He stressed that the theory that BSD code can simply be relicensed to the GPL without making significant changes to the code is false, adding, "in their zeal to get the code under their own license, some of these Linux wireless developers have broken copyright law repeatedly. But to even get to the point where they broke copyright law, they had to bypass a whole series of ethical considerations too." Theo went on to explain:
"I believe these people have received bogus advice from Eben Moglen regarding how copyright law actually works in a global setting. Perhaps the internationally based developers should rethink their approach of taking advice from a US-based lawyer who apparently knows nothing about the Berne Convention. Furthermore, those developers are getting advice freely from ex-FSF people who have formed an agency with an agenda. Some have suggested that the SFLC was formed to avoid smearing the FSF with dirt whenever the SFLC does something risky. Don't get trampled; there could be penalties besides looking unethical and guilty. Be really cautious, especially with things like this coming to mess with our communities."