Title says it all: when was BSD-2 published? Everywhere I've looked has no information about when the BSD-2 "Simplified" license was published.

  • 1
    Would love an explanation for the downvote. :) I don't know of any other site where this would be an applicable question but I'd love to be pointed in the right direction. Jan 4, 2017 at 4:26
  • I did not downvote and think this is a great question. Jan 12, 2017 at 14:02

2 Answers 2


The earliest date known so far is Feb 6, 1997.

Note that there is unlikely anything official and formal with the first use of this license. Someone at some point just took its knife to cut the 3rd and 4th clauses from the BSD original text (e.g. "four clauses"). The trick is to find who did it first and when. Here is some of my research towards this going progressively backwards in time:

  • This commit from December 31st, 2003 shows the license appearing as the top-level primary license for the FreeBSD Project and is referenced as the "compilation copyright" in the commit comment:

    Update the COPYRIGHT file to include FreeBSD's compilation copyright

  • But this "two clause" BSD license as used in FreeBSD today as the top level license appeared well after the fourth clause of the "four clause" BSD (the advertizing clause) was "rescinded" by the UC Regents on July 22, 1999. Before that the fourth clause was still applying.

  • And the wayback machine tells us that as early as April 29 1999 this BSD variant was already in use on the main project web site.

  • And this commit on Sep 26, 1998 shows it was used already at this stage for specific subsets of the code.

  • And a tad before this commit shows that on Feb 6, 1997 it was already there used for some /etc files.

It may have been in use before and elsewhere though.... I have asked the committers for details ... and I will continue to dig now and then and update the answer.


BSD-2 Licence is also known as FreeBSD Licence and the first time it was published in the FreeBSD project was on 31st December 2003.

  • What do you mean by "is copyrighted"? can you elaborate? Jan 5, 2017 at 12:31
  • 1
    "is copyrighted" refers to the FreeBSD Project, not the licence itself.
    – David
    Jan 5, 2017 at 12:55
  • In 1992, the license was still a "four clause" BSD license to the best of my knowledge unless you have a proof of the contrary Jan 5, 2017 at 19:04
  • I made further investigation and found what you added in your answer. Thank you.
    – David
    Jan 5, 2017 at 19:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.