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Date:      Tue, 02 Sep 2003 13:46:07 -0400
From:      Chuck Swiger <>
Cc:        freebsd-questions@FreeBSD.ORG
Subject:   Re: information
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <000001c37174$9a381ea0$>
References:  <000001c37174$9a381ea0$>

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Victoria Mah wrote:
> Hello,


> I am an attorney at Cisco Systems, Inc. and have been asked to evaluate,
> from a legal perspective, obligations concerning usage of your code and
> whether making a donation would be appropriate.

OK.  I'm pretty sure that making a donation to FreeBSD would not be 
inappropriate, at least.

[ ... ]
> I am confused why the GPL and LGPL licenses are posted at your site and
> whether there are restrictions or obligations imposed, more than "Do not
> claim that you wrote this." and "Do not sue us if it breaks."  Is all of
> the code available from your site licensed under the freeBSD copyright
> or some software available under the GPL or LGPL license?

Some of the software that "comes with" FreeBSD is under the GPL or LGPL, most 
notably the compiler toolchain (gcc, gdb, etc).  Questions about the GPL should 
be directed to, for GPLed software (which is generally located under 

1-sec% ls /usr/src
COPYRIGHT               etc/                    release/
CVS/                    games/                  sbin/
Makefile                gnu/                    secure/
Makefile.inc1           include/                share/
Makefile.upgrade        kerberos5/              sys/
README                  kerberosIV/             tools/
UPDATING                lib/                    usr.bin/
bin/                    libexec/                usr.sbin/
contrib/                make.conf
crypto/                 nohup.out

The rest of the FreeBSD software, contained in the other parts of /usr/src (such 
as the FreeBSD kernel and most of the "BSD userland" utilities) are generally 
under the "modified BSD license".  However, I'd imagine that kerberos is under 
the MIT license, say, and there are undoubtedly other exceptions.

It's a very open license without other restrictions or obligations.

> Also, the freeBSD copyright seems directed toward copyright but silent
> toward patent rights and trade secrets.  Is this intentional?

The number of people who have written code either under a BSD-style copyright, 
or for the FreeBSD project specificly, is a fairly large and diverse group of 
people.  If you generalize broadly over a large enough group, you will find 
exceptions to almost any statement, but:

Yes, they intended to publish their software under an open source license.
No, not all of them intended to say nothing about patent rights or trade secrets.


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