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Re: CodeSourcery's licensing of newlib files

On Thu, Oct 24, 2013 at 12:43 AM, Ralf Corsepius

> On 10/23/2013 10:09 PM, Gregory Fong wrote:
>> On Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 6:03 AM, freddie_chopin <>
>> wrote:
>>>  Can they attach sth like that to newlib's files?
>> Yes, that's permitted under the BSD license.
> Correct, but it means their changes can not be applied to's
> newlib.

If by "they" you mean "SourceWare", then that's incorrect. SourceWare can
sign appropriate releases and donate their code.

If by "they" you mean "SourceWare customers", that's a bit more nuanced.

If I build a patch against the SourceWare tree, and it can be applied
successfully to the newlib tree without change, I'm probably fine. The
patch itself is my property, not SourceWare's. It is not a derived work,
and therefore not subject to their copyright. The fact that it can be
applied successfully to the baseline newlib tree confirms that my patch has
no proprietary SourceWare content in it. That means that (a) I'm not
violating the SourceWare copyright, which only applies to the SourceWare
content, and (b) No confidential or trade secret information exists in my
patch (because the patch applied to baseline newlib successfully).

If the patch *won't* apply to baseline newlib, then things get interesting.
At that point I think you need a lawyer to figure it out.

Practically speaking, the impediment here isn't an intellectual property
issue. It's the fact that the user has to migrate/convert the patch to
apply against the newlib sources before submitting.

Aside: if we knew the baseline newlib version that SourceWare had
appropriated, it would be really interesting to know (a) the number of
lines in the diff between SourceWare and baseline, and (b) how many files
actually changed. While the BSD license *does* allow SourceWare to add the
notices, you can only assert copyright on material that you own. If
SourceWare has systematically altered the copyright notice on files they
did not change, then (a) that's fraud, and (b) it would make it very
difficult for them to enforce successfully. It's obviously not a battle
anyone wants to have, and the newlib team is right to be careful about
incoming patches, but I'd hazard to guess that SourceWare has overstepped
very badly here.

To say that more plainly: BSD allows you to redistribute code under a broad
range of license terms. BSD does *not* grant you any right to claim
ownership of work you did not create. A copyright notice is a claim of

Jonathan S. Shapiro

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