[radvd-devel-l] radvd licensing history investigation, and future licensing directions

Robin H. Johnson robbat2 at gentoo.org
Mon Feb 1 00:13:26 EST 2021

TL;DR: should radvd be relicensed? Possibly a plain 3-clause BSD license?

radvd's present license presents packaging problems for all parties that
wish to integrate with GPL code.

Fedora: https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Licensing/radvd_License
ClearLinux: https://github.com/clearlinux/distribution/issues/2243

This has been known as a problem for a very old time:

radvd is licensing under the original 4-clause BSD license, with
the advertising clause, and an ADDITIONAL pass-through restriction if
added by some party on route.

Hopefully Pekka, as the author of that message, and the original authors
(Lars Fennberg, Pedro Roque) can shed some light of some of the
historical reasons behind the original license choice.

Further, I'd like to open discussions about moving to an OSI-compatible
license, that is ideally GPL compatible. I know that it will require
agreement from a significant majority of all copyright holds, but at
this point the discussion should be what to relicense to.

I feel the goal should be a straight conversion to a less-restriction
BSD license: 3-clause or 2-clause. It would drop the advertising and
pass-through restriction, and leave any other users untouched.

Conversion to other licenses, such as GPL or Apache-2 may end up
imposing more restrictions and complexity on distributors than the
3-clause BSD license. (e.g. the directional nature of license
incompatibility between Apache-2 and GPL licenses).

This also opens interesting possibilities for research: 
Have all parties known to have shipped radvd under the existing license,
specifically in commercial products, complied with the license as it
stand? My cursory research would suggest that commercial products have
not complied with it, but enforcement would be a massive undertaking.
Better to forgive and let live.

Robin Hugh Johnson
Gentoo Linux: Dev, Infra Lead, Foundation Treasurer
E-Mail   : robbat2 at gentoo.org
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