We want to publish a project that does use some components under BSD-3-Clause license according to below:

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.

and currently we plan to place the below BSD-License in the file C:/program files/our-app/redist/license/LICENSE-BSD-3-Clause

LICENSE-BSD-3-Clause

########################################################################
The following software may be included in this product:
   simplecrypt.cpp

Copyright (c) 2011, Andre Somers
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.
    * Neither the name of the Rathenau Instituut, Andre Somers nor the
      names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products
      derived from this software without specific prior written permission.

THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND CONTRIBUTORS "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 ANDRE SOMERS 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 #######; 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.

########################################################################
The following software may be included in this product:
   SQLCipher

Copyright (c) 2008-2012 Zetetic LLC
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.
* Neither the name of the ZETETIC LLC nor the
  names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products
  derived from this software without specific prior written permission.

THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY ZETETIC LLC ''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 ZETETIC LLC 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.

But is that really the right approach and place for the license ?

  • 2
    What kind of software are you publishing? Does it have a GUI? Does it have a manual? – amon Nov 8 at 14:06
  • It does not have any documentation and we hope that redist directory does count as materials provided with the distribution @amon – Top-Master Nov 10 at 7:22
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You are required to attribute the authors of any libraries you use, regardless of whether this is explicitly required by the libraries' licenses. The BSD license only mentions a suggested place for this attribution. In general, wherever you assert your copyright of the software, you should also mention that you include software from other copyright holders. Claiming that you hold sole copyright when you do not would be a kind of copyright infringement.

In a GUI software, such attributions would usually be in a “Help → About” menu item. E.g. Google Chrome shows:

Google Chrome
Copyright 2018 Google Inc. All rights reserved.

Google Chrome is made possible by the Chromium open source project (link) and other open source software (link).

The second link goes to a page that lists all included libraries and shows their licenses.

The BSD license requires that binary distributions must show the license “in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.” The intent here is clearly that any attribution within the source code is insufficient because that would be compiled away and is inaccessible to users. Instead, the license requires you to put the attribution somewhere a user can easily see, e.g. any documentation. In my opinion, the documentation can be part of the application's user interface itself and doesn't have to be a separate document.

You suggest placing attributions into a subdirectory of an installation. In a most literal interpretation, this might satisfy the BSD license. Yet clearly this fails the intention of providing user-visible attribution, since most users would not think to scour the installation directory for legal notices. I think this solution would be fine if and only if you provide documentation that points users to those files, e.g. as part of a copyright notice within the application.

  • I think link to internet might not satisfy "provided with the distribution" part, so may be we should create offline bin/redist/LICENSE.html file and provide link into the about dialog? – Top-Master Nov 11 at 5:03
  • and what about linking to a directory like bin/redist/license that contains different license files like SQLCipher.md, so that we can use markdown language, or is user-known format like HTML required? – Top-Master Nov 11 at 5:31
  • @Top-Master yes the link should go to a local document. In the Chrome example that was a chrome:// link that doesn't need internet connectivity. You can use whatever format you want, but I would recommend HTML, PDF, or plain text. Windows users might have difficulty opening a .md file. – amon Nov 11 at 8:49
  • although we will create link in about like suggested but I am curios: what if the setup.exe does show a license-dialog with any license we use in it, and requires users to accept that, would that still require anything, I mean that would not be really readable, but does setup.exe count as part of "distribution" ? – Top-Master Nov 11 at 10:22
  • 1
    @Top-Master Most open source licenses do not require acceptance for normal use, only for distribution or modification. So showing the licenses during installation is fine but not required. I'd be more doubtful about showing the licenses and copyright notices only during installation. I think this might be fine if the installer points the user to a local directory where they can find the licenses later, and if your application doesn't show your own copyright notices either. But if you show your own, also show third party notices in the same place. – amon Nov 11 at 11:12

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