I forked a project which is licensed under “BSD-like” license. This goes as the following:

Copyright © 20xx Author
CopyRight © 20xx Another author

All rights reserved.

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

* Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice,
  this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
* 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.

This software is provided by the copyright holders "as is" and any express or
implied warranties, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of
merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose are disclaimed. In no
event shall the copyright holders be liable for any direct, indirect,
incidental, special, exemplary, or consequential damages (including, but not
limited to, procurement of substitute goods or services; loss of use, data,
or profits; or business interruption) however caused and on any theory of
liability, whether in contract, strict liability, or tort (including
negligence or otherwise) arising in any way out of the use of this software,
even if advised of the possibility of such damage.

Now I want to avoid ambiguous “BSD-like” and state that it's under BSD3 for clarity. As I understand I should just add the following clause:

* Neither the name of the <authors> nor the names of its contributors
  may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software
  without specific prior written permission.

Can I add this clause to license of my fork? I'm not a lawyer, but it seems that the “new” license will contain the same info plus one more clause and that should be OK.

  • 2
    That's not a "BSD-like license", that's the 2 clause BSD license. If you would like to avoid ambiguity, BSD3 is not a well-recognized name. It's usually called the 3 clause BSD license (and occasionally revised, modified or new BSD license)
    – Martijn
    Oct 29, 2015 at 16:02
  • 1
    @Martijn, Wikipedia says that 2 clause BSD has this part: "The views and conclusions contained in the software and documentation are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing official policies, either expressed or implied, of the FreeBSD Project.", which is missing here.
    – Mark
    Oct 29, 2015 at 16:13
  • OSI lists it as this one exactly: opensource.org/licenses/BSD-2-Clause
    – Martijn
    Oct 29, 2015 at 16:26
  • Whether the disclaimer and following parts are technically part of the license is also up for debate.
    – Martijn
    Oct 29, 2015 at 16:27
  • @Martijn, indeed. Well, let it be 2 clause BSD then.
    – Mark
    Oct 29, 2015 at 16:28

2 Answers 2


The 2-clause BSD licence is generally known as the FreeBSD licence, which is how it gets referred to by the FSF, for example.

It's different from the OpenBSD licence, which is just an ISC licence (most famously now known as the OpenBSD licence, due to various OpenBSD offshoots), whereas NetBSD has traditionally been distributed under a 4-clause licence, even though that's supposedly no longer the case for code assigned directly to NetBSD Foundation.

So, if you want more recognition, especially since Netflix has been at it recently, you should just refer to your licence as the FreeBSD licence.

However, as is, a statement like "2-clause BSD licence" should generally be already sufficiently clear enough as-is.

In fact, the advertising clause that was subsequently withdrawn by Berkeley from the 4-clause licence, was actually clause #3, so, a 3-clause BSD licence for code not explicitly originating from Berkeley is, IMHO, not at all clearer than the other alternatives presented here.

  • 2
    OK, but this doesn't answer the question, "can I add third clause to 2 clause BSD license"?
    – Mark
    Oct 30, 2015 at 10:20
  • You can only do that with the permission of another author. If they don't agree, you could remove your name from the old licence, and add a new licence on top, as a separate comment, e.g., like this: bxr.su/o/sys/dev/spdmem.c (although in the spdmem example, the new licence is actually more permissive than the prior one)
    – cnst
    Oct 30, 2015 at 10:47
  • Not sure I can get any response from them. The development of original project has seemingly stagnated issues and pull requests are ignored, etc. Well, then I'll just put "FreeBSD" everywhere. Thank you.
    – Mark
    Oct 30, 2015 at 11:22
  • @Mark, 2-clause BSD or FreeBSD -- either way, it should not really be confusing. A lot of software is claimed to be "BSD-like" licensed, noone really takes any issue with it anyways; although FSF does refer to the 2-clause licence as FreeBSD, and I agree that it's appropriate (although the new NetBSD licence is now the same, too), to tell you the truth, I haven't actually seen many projects referring to it that way -- usually, "2-clause BSD licence" or "BSD-like licence" is sufficient as the summary.
    – cnst
    Oct 30, 2015 at 11:29

The name of the license is irrelevant, what is important is its contents.

In any case, please do not invent your own license. It will only end up incompatible with others, stranding your work on an inaccessible island.

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