legal question on licence terms

Robert Bonomi bonomi at
Sun Sep 16 02:08:26 UTC 2012

> From owner-freebsd-questions at  Fri Sep 14 10:32:41 2012
> From: Martyn Jansen <martyn.jansen at>
> To: "freebsd-questions at" <freebsd-questions at>
> Date: Fri, 14 Sep 2012 15:16:32 +0000
> Subject: legal question on licence terms
> Sirs,
> I'm looking at your licence terms and conditions and particularly the 
> section on "redistribution restriction" on a number of ports.
> The restriction is stated as being applicable to "redistribution on mass 
> media". Could you please elaborate on what this means - clearly a number 
> of leading solutions use FreeBSD so I'm trying to properly understand 
> when and how the redistribution restrictions apply.
> In our own case we would be using FreeBSD as a component of managed 
> services that we would be providing to our customers. The software would 
> remain on our own server and would not be separately available to our 
> customers. We assume therefore that this in any case does not constitute 
> "redistribution".

For buiness purposes, it is _critical_ that you consult -- on a *paid*,
professional basis --with a competent legal profesional in your 
jurisdiction -- one with expertise and experience in 'IP' (intellectual 
property) matters.  That way, if the advice/opinion you get, and 'rely on',
turns out to be incorrect, you have recourse against their malpractice

That said, there is one set of rules that applies to the FreeBSD 'base
system' -- which is owned, maintined, and distributed by the FreeBSD 
Foundation -- which allows essentially unlimited use for any reason as
long as the copyright notices and source attribution are maintained.

The 'ports collection' operates under *different* rules -- with potentially
different rules for _each_and_every_ package in the collection.  These
packages are owned and maintained by various 'third parties', who THEMSELVES
decide on the licensing requirements/restrictions they impose.

You, or your legal counsel/solicitor/barrister, will have to review the
licensing terms of _each_and_every_ such 'third party' package that you
intend to make available to your users -- to see if/how/under what conditions
you can do that.  There are some packages where the rights owner allows
FreeBSD to distribute their package to directly to 'end users', but does
*not* allow someone who gets the package from FreeBSD to redistribute it
to others.

It is *YOUR* responsibility to review the license terms in each piece of
software in the ports collection to determine what is/is not allowed by
the licence terms on that piece of software, if it is for other than 
'personal' use.

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