Re: Circlemud/diku Licence

From: George Greer (
Date: 07/20/00

On Thu, 20 Jul 2000, Daniel A. Koepke wrote:

>> UC Berkeley retroactively removed the "advertising clause" from the
>> true BSD license (software from UC Berkeley).
>Well, this isn't an injurous retroactive change (that is, it doesn't make
>the license more restrictive), so many people would say its permissable.

What I was thinking by "retroactive" was that you could use either license
on the code you already have.  If you liked the old license better, keep
it, otherwise use the new one.  I wouldn't be up for forcing people into
liking the new license, nor do I think that was be very legally sound.  I
have seen places that use the "floating contract" sort of idea, but those
are mostly for services, fortunately.

>For what it's worth, I don't believe retroactive licensing to be possible
>at all.  What Cal did is relicense its work without that clause, thus
>immediately removing the requirement to include it in immediate
>derivatives.  An immediate derivative would be any in which the copyright
>was signed, in exclusiveness, to the Regents of UC Berkeley.  In a case
>where the license bore the weight of other copyrights, the clause could
>not be removed until the license from which it derives was changed.  Some
>people made the argument that this case was exceptional, reasoning that
>Cal has the right to its own name and thus can remove the advertisement
>clause retroactively and immediately from all existing BSD licenses.  I
>can't see that being anything but common-sense-lawyering: law is oft more
>complex and rigid than we assume.

Yes, unfortunately, good paragraph.

>> I'm all for retroactive GPL-ing if the people from Diku agree.
>We wouldn't need to retroactively GPL.  As copyright holders, we can
>relicense at any time (subject to the restrictions placed on us as being a
>derivative work).  If retroactive changes are possible at all, but only
>without increasing restrictiveness or being injurous, we can't GPL.

Right. I know many people (including a very pro-BSD guy I went to college
with) that would not want to use the GPL but rather stick with the current

>Like I said, though, we don't need retroactive changes to make this thing
>work.  We simply need to make it clear that we permit relicensing
>CircleMUD under the GPL.  This doesn't change the existing licenses, it
>simply permits people to change licenses with our permission.  This is
>most certainly within the rights of a copyright holder.

Except we're limited by Diku, but you meantion that below...

>Of course, this is all moot.  The least of our concerns on this issue
>would be how we would go about relicensing CircleMUD.  As a derivative of
>DikuMUD, we are bound by the terms and conditions of the DikuMUD license.
>Unless we can get the Hans-Henrik, Tom, Sebastian, Michael, and Katja to
>permit relicensing Diku, this is all talk and no walk.

I didn't say it was possible, or likely, I said I would if we could. :)

George Greer

[As usual, Daniel the undisputed voice of sanity. He's good.]

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