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BSD license questions

asked 2011-02-14 16:19:19 -0600

Tully gravatar image

I have a general question about BSD licenses for statically compiled libraries.

The BSD license states, among other things,

{{{ Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:


  • Redistribution's 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. }}}

Is shipping an executable that statically links portions of a BSD library "redistribution"? Does the BSD license agreement need to incorporated in that case?

The above clause is meant to apply to the library. However, when using statically linked libraries, they become incorporated into a larger binary, which is usually not redistributable.

How are these cases usually interpreted?

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answered 2011-02-14 16:20:04 -0600

tfoote gravatar image

updated 2017-11-29 12:47:05 -0600

Yes, the BSD language isn't completely clear. In general when incorporating open source software within a product the best practice is to collect the licenses and embed them with the binary distributed. If you are distributing a package with multiple files it's common to have a directory which includes all the relevant licenses. Or for binaries that are distributed there is often a menu item in the Help -> About region that lists the licenses of software used within the product. Including the license text in either case is relatively low overhead so I'd recommend doing it both as a library or statically linked in. This is the conservative option and means that you don't need to worry about the underlying legal question.

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Asked: 2011-02-14 16:19:19 -0600

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Last updated: Nov 29 '17