D. J. Bernstein

Frequently asked questions from distributors

This page is for people who want to distribute copies of my software or derivative works: for example, an operating system that includes the software.

You don't need to read this page if you simply want to use my software. You are free to download the software from my web server; you then own that copy of the software, and you are free to compile it and run it.

You also don't need to read this page if you simply want to set up a mirror of my web pages.

What are the distribution terms for cdb?

2009.07.21: I hereby place the cdb package (in particular, cdb-0.75.tar.gz, with MD5 checksum 81fed54d0bde51b147dd6c20cdb92d51) into the public domain. The package is no longer copyrighted.

What are the distribution terms for clockspeed?

2013.01.09: I hereby place the clockspeed package (in particular, clockspeed-0.62.tar.gz, with MD5 checksum 425614174fcfe2ad42d22d3d02e2d567) into the public domain. The package is no longer copyrighted.

What are the distribution terms for daemontools?

2007.12.28: I hereby place the daemontools package (in particular, daemontools-0.76.tar.gz, with MD5 checksum 1871af2453d6e464034968a0fbcb2bfc) into the public domain. The package is no longer copyrighted.

What are the distribution terms for djbdns?

2007.12.28: I hereby place the djbdns package (in particular, djbdns-1.05.tar.gz, with MD5 checksum 3147c5cd56832aa3b41955c7a51cbeb2) into the public domain. The package is no longer copyrighted.

What are the distribution terms for djbfft?

2008.02.27: I hereby place the djbfft package (in particular, djbfft-0.76.tar.gz, with MD5 checksum 9349eff24c1f9fdfb98cfb51bece8efb) into the public domain. The package is no longer copyrighted.

What are the distribution terms for dot-forward?

2008.06.01: I hereby place the dot-forward package (in particular, dot-forward-0.71.tar.gz, with MD5 checksum 1fefd9760e4706491fb31c7511d69bed) into the public domain. The package is no longer copyrighted.

What are the distribution terms for ezmlm?

2008.06.01: I hereby place the ezmlm package (in particular, ezmlm-0.53.tar.gz, with MD5 checksum 108c632caaa8cdbfd3041e6c449191b2) into the public domain. The package is no longer copyrighted.

What are the distribution terms for fastforward?

2008.06.01: I hereby place the fastforward package (in particular, fastforward-0.51.tar.gz, with MD5 checksum 6dc619180ba9726380dc1047e45a1d8d) into the public domain. The package is no longer copyrighted.

What are the distribution terms for mess822?

2011.02.05: I hereby place the mess822 package (in particular, mess822-0.58.tar.gz, with MD5 checksum 8ce4c29c994a70dcaa30140601213dbe) into the public domain. The package is no longer copyrighted.

What are the distribution terms for primegen?

2007.12.29: I hereby place the primegen package (in particular, primegen-0.97.tar.gz, with MD5 checksum 7f2a260e5d0c0a4f9dd2e10cc6c8b984) into the public domain. The package is no longer copyrighted.

What are the distribution terms for qmail?

There is a separate page for qmail distributors.

What are the distribution terms for ucspi-tcp?

2007.12.28: I hereby place the ucspi-tcp package (in particular, ucspi-tcp-0.88.tar.gz, with MD5 checksum 39b619147db54687c4a583a7a94c9163) into the public domain. The package is no longer copyrighted.

Am I free to modify uncopyrighted packages and distribute modified versions?

Yes. But this does not mean that modifications are encouraged!

Please take time to ensure that your distributions of my software support exactly the same interface as everyone else's distributions. In particular, if you move files, please set up symbolic links from the original locations, so that you don't frivolously break scripts that work everywhere else.

Rick Moen says you can revoke these permissions by changing your web page!

Is that a question?

Rick Moen is an idiot. (In case there are several Rick Moens in the world: I'm talking about rick@linuxmafia.com.) Feel free to ask your attorney to explain waivers to you.

Wait, now Rick Moen says he never said that!

Is that a question?

Here's Rick Moen's first public statement (2000.11.09), in his own words:

If you become dependent on Bernstein software, you run the risk that he might cease development and withdraw it from the Net. Neither you nor anyone else would then have the legal right to take over development and distribute even the old versions, let alone new ones. ... You're betting that Bernstein never changes his mind, if you use qmail.
(Emphasis added.)

Here's Rick Moen's second public statement (2001.04.15), in his own words:

Unmodified specific versions of qmail and djbdns (formerly dnscache) may be redistributed -- or at least so claimed Bernstein's Web pages, recently. Will those continue to be there, to point to? ... Essentially, you're betting that Bernstein never changes his mind, if you rely on such software.
(Emphasis added.)

Here's a subsequent public statement (2001.09.01) from Moen's friend J. Paul Reed:

DJB could, theoretically, retract his sofftware, shutdown his webpages, and proceed to sue everyone distributing his software.
(Followed, in the original, by a link to Moen's web page.)

Here's some subsequent backpedaling by Moen: ``Are you saying that DJB can revoke the licence to his software by changing or removing his Web pages? No, of course not.''

Rick Moen says that we can't trust public-domain dedications!

Is that a question?

As a unanimous three-judge panel of the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in 1998, it is "well settled" that authors can abandon their copyrights. This abandonment simply requires an "overt act indicating an intention to abandon that right". In short: explicitly dedicate your work to the public domain, and it's in the public domain. Done.

For many years Moen has been spreading FUD about such dedications. For example, Moen writes "It seems unlikely that the law would permit putting a creative work in the public domain". Moen also points approvingly to an essay by Lawrence Rosen, who Moen says is "one of the more noted authorities on legal issues relating to open source software" and is "an attorney extremely well versed in copyright law"; what the essay says is that public-domain dedications are "illusory" and that they can be retracted "at any time and for any reason".

Unfortunately for Moen, Rosen's essay was flat-out wrong in both its arguments and its conclusions. Rosen has recently admitted that "at least in the Ninth Circuit" the essay's main conclusion is wrong---

a person can indeed abandon his copyrights (counter to what I wrote in my article)
---and has made no attempt to defend the essay's arguments. I have a separate web page that discusses public-domain dedications, and Rosen's errors, in more detail; Rosen's admission of error was in response to a copy of that web page.