Recently, an OEM contacted me about a problem with heatshrink. They said that it worked well for their needs, except there was a snag with the license. Huh? I had released it under the 3-clause BSD license, not the GPL or something. Isn’t the BSD license as commercially permissive as they get? It turns out that there’s a clause in the BSD License that is problematic for anything distributed solely as hardware:
“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.”
I am not a lawyer, but their objection makes sense to me. As an OEM, they don’t usually provide documentation or other disclaimers for end-users with their hardware — it just gets installed in other vendors’ products. (Do you know, or necessarily care, who supplied the brakes in your car? The GPS in your smartphone? The controller in your thermostat?). That clause would put an extra burden on their customers, who would have to print and distribute an extra disclaimer just to indicate that an upstream vendor was using my library. Looks like I found another leaky abstraction.