[Haskell-cafe] Problems trying to understand the BSD license

Brian Hulley brianh at metamilk.com
Sun Sep 3 14:45:50 EDT 2006

Hi -
I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this question but since a lot 
of Haskell code is under the BSD license I think the answer could be useful 
for other people as well.

The question I have is if I want to redistribute a binary executable under 
my own proprietary license that uses code from various BSD libraries, what 
exact text do I need to add to my license to satisfy the BSD licenses that 
came with the libraries?

Is the code that is part of the executable considered to be a redistribution 
of the library in binary form?

Also consider this apparent contradiction:

        Copyright (c) 1988 XYZ ...

        1) Redistributions of source code...

        2)  Redistributions in binary form must reproduce
         the above copyright notice, this list of conditions
         and the following disclaimer in the documentation
         and/or other materials provided with the distribution.

         3) Neither the name of XYZ nor the names of its
         contributors may be used to endorse or promote
         products derived from this software without
        specific prior written permission.

In order to comply with 2), it suggests I'd need to insert something along 
the lines of:

       Portions of this software are copyrighted by XYZ, PQR, STU, ...

       Portions of this software are provided by XYZ, ..., "as is" and
       any express or implied warranties ...

but does this infringe on 3), which states that the name of XYZ should not 
be used to endorse the product? Ie is the mention of XYZ's name in the 
license considered to *not* be an endorsement?

And what about "this list of conditions"? Does that also include the first 
condition ("Redistributions of source code ...") even though only a binary 
executable is being supplied to the licensee? I also don't want the licensee 
to get confused and think the whole executable is being distributed under 

Also what about the application's "about" dialog or help pages? Would an 
acknowledgement of libraries used in the code and their authors be 
considered to be using them to endorse my product or would it be regarded as 
a welcome acknowledgement for their hard work in making the libraries 
available? Is this required or prohibited by the BSD license?

Surprisingly, although I have looked at several websites which discuss the 
BSD license, none of them actually say what the practical down to earth text 
of a proprietary license of a binary executable using BSD licensed 
components is supposed to look like.

Any ideas?

Thanks, Brian.
Logic empowers us and Love gives us purpose.
Yet still phantoms restless for eras long past,
congealed in the present in unthought forms,
strive mightily unseen to destroy us.


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