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Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2016 17:35:51 -0400
From: Rich Felker <>
Subject: Re: musl licensing

On Wed, Mar 16, 2016 at 10:15:27PM +0100, FRIGN wrote:
> On Wed, 16 Mar 2016 16:34:28 -0400
> Rich Felker <> wrote:
> Hey Rich,
> > Yes, what I'm waiting for on this is whether a "conditional license"
> > ("if this code is deemed to be covered by copyright, then we license
> > it as BSD0/CC0/whatever") will satisfy them. This makes no difference
> > in jurisdictions where public domain is recognized but may make them
> > happy.
> can you give me one single aspect in which BSD0 and Public Domain differ?

One claims copyright but then gives unlimited permission to use/etc.
The other disclaims copyright and thereby avoids placing any
copyright-based restrictions on use. In terms of what you can do there
is no difference, but there is an ideological difference in claiming
"these facts belong to me, and you can only use them because I was
willing to give you permission" rather than "I just wrote these facts
down, but they don't belong to me or to anyone, and you can freely use

> > What about authorship/copyright holders per-file?
> I see no need for that and it's one hell to maintain. If you want to
> find out exact authorship, "git blame" is your friend. It will give you
> the history and everything else ("git log file", "git show", ...).
> Trying to emulate that by hand is just tedious and defeats the purpose.

I tend to agree. I also find that it's problematic trying to decide
whether someone who makes a 1-line or 5-line patch to an existing
nontrivial file is a copyright holder for the file, and rather
pointless since it really makes no difference except to someone
contacting all copyright holders trying to get permission to
relicense. As far as I am aware, the vast majority of FOSS projects do
not waste their time trying to make such determinations.

My view is that a project and its maintainer should document these
things sufficiently well that users of the code can feel comfortable
that they actually have the license permissions you tell them they
have, and that further pedantry that does not affect license validity
should be left to lawyers only to be done when there's actually a need
for it (since their time costs a lot :). Stupid things like whether a
1-line patch author is a copyright holder may even vary by
jurisdiction. FWIW in my experience even the FSF is satisfied that
patches consisting of trivial changes, even a fair number of such, do
not require having a copyright assignment on file with them, so their
lawyers presumably are not concerned about such contributors claiming


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