[Biopython-dev] Adopting BSD 3-Clause license for Biopython?

Peter Cock p.j.a.cock at googlemail.com
Tue Aug 6 09:11:33 UTC 2013

On Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 2:18 AM, Andrew Dalke <dalke at dalkescientific.com> wrote:
> On Jul 24, 2013, at 11:13 AM, Peter Cock wrote:
>> The current Biopython License is very short and liberal, and I have
>> long described it as an MIT/BSD type licence. However the actual
>> wording matches neither of these exactly (as far as I could tell):
> That's my doing. When Jeff and I started Biopython in 1999 we
> needed to choose a license. We started with the Python license,
> which (for 1.5.2) was:
> ...

Ah - with hindsight I should have checked the older Python
licenses, but I was thinking more of their current very long

> You'll see that Fredrik Lundh refers to it as the "Historical
> Permission Notice and Disclaimer", and points to:
>   http://opensource.org/licenses/historical.php
> Further note that the OSI comments that "This License has been
> voluntarily deprecated by its author" .. whatever that
> means ... and that that http://opensource.org/proliferation-report
> describes it as "redundant with more popular licenses", and
> more specifically the BSD.
>> In theory we could ask the OSI to approve our current license, but as
>> they explain "yet another license" is not a good thing to encourage:
>> http://opensource.org/proliferation
> It wouldn't be a "yet another license" as it's already
> registered with the OSI ... almost.
> The one odd alteration I made was to add "with or without
> modifications", because some people on comp.lang.python
> expressed concern that "use, copy, modify, and distribute"
> could be interpreted to be restrictive, as in "you can
> modify it original source code, or distribute the original
> source code, but you can't distribute the modified source
> code. I've since learned that this is a hyper-picky
> interpretation with no legal bearing.
> I don't know if that "with or without modifications" is
> enough different that the OSI would say it's doesn't fall
> under the 'Historical Permission Notice and Disclaimer',

Thanks for that background information. Educational.

> In any case, I agree with a relicensing. The current
> license is from a bygone era. Nowadays I just pick the MIT
> license.
> If there's anything copyright by me still remaining in
> Biopython, I hereby relicense it under the MIT and/or one
> of the standard n-clause BSD licenses, at your choice.

That's great Andrew - thank you,


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