[TUHS] 2.11BSD license question: porting software to NetBSD

Igor Sobrado sobrado at string1.ciencias.uniovi.es
Sat Apr 19 17:23:43 AEST 2003

> On Friday, 18 April 2003 at 18:56:16 +0200, Igor Sobrado wrote:
> >
> > I asked to the people of the NetBSD Foundation about the possibility
> > of adding those commands to the base system (as a part of the tarball
> > with documentation tools) but they think that it is not possible,
> > as a consequence of a licensing issue.  I supposed that all the
> > software provided in the 2.11BSD was under a BSD license, but it
> > looks like 2.11BSD is a closed source release.
> That's not correct any more.  Who were you talking to at the NetBSD
> project?

Hi Greg.

I am worried with possible licensing issues with AT&T's Documenter's
Workbench (DWB).  In fact, AT&T retained the copyright and distribution
rights on those parts of the UNIX documentation tools they developed
some years ago.  That is the reason we have [nt]roff, but not
diction (diction(1), explain(1), suggest(1)) and style(1).

Last days, Perry E. Metzger observed that 2.11BSD was closed source:

"And it is closed source. Sorry. We aren't allowed to use code that did
not originate in V7/32V. If Caldera did not specifically release the
sources, we cannot use them. If your claim is that diction and style
were not in 32V, then we have no rights to them."

Well, in a previous email Perry observed that:

"I appreciate all this and I thank you for doing the work, but please
do your work against a version we have clear ability to use."

In short, he does not says that "we cannot add diction(1) and style(1)
to NetBSD" only that *license terms are NOT clear*.

What I do *not* want to do, is asking for adding a piece of code
that will report problems to the NetBSD Foundation.  They are
doing a superb job, and I do not want to start a legal problem
adding some tools whose license is not clear.

On the other hand, Steven M. Schultz observed that "Not 100% - much of
it is covered by the BSD license and the Caldera/SCO/whatever license(s)".
I believe that diction(1) and style(1) are covered by a different
license agreement, but I did not find it in the source code.

> > Can someone, please, helping me on this matter?  What should I do?
> > Should I just drop this software?
> We discussed the Caldera release of "ancient UNIX" on this mailing
> list recently.  Caldera (now SCO again) was supposed to make some kind
> of official statement, but it's taking its time.

Well, there are some operating systems under Caldera's agreement
(a BSD-style license), including v7 and 32V, but looks like 2.11BSD
is *not* under those terms.  In fact, it is not available through
Caldera, it is in tuhs, not covered by Caldera's license agreement.
(at least I think that it is right...)

I am not a lawyer, only a Physics grad student working on a Ph. D.
on CS.  I have no idea about the legal status of 2.11BSD or, to
be more precise, about the status of diction(1) and style(1).


Igor Sobrado, UK34436 - sobrado at acm.org

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