variable notification display req.'s

max privus thehand at
Fri Aug 30 00:31:45 UTC 2002

Hi Everybody;

I'm hoping to get some feedback on a proposed copyright notification display requirement. The scheme that I have in mind would require that the software's copyright notification be displayed to the user each time the application was launched, and adjust the notification's minimum display interval according to the volume of copies that the licensee has redistributed. I'd like to determine whether a variable notification requirement of this sort is , in and of itself, a violation of the OSD.  Also, any opinions on the impact of this sort of requirement will be appreciated. 

The two most relevant license provisions that I've found are within the Artistic Attribution License and the W3C license.

the Artistic Attribution license contains the following stipulation.

2. Redistributions of the Code in binary form must be accompanied by
this GPG-signed text in any documentation and, each time the resulting
executable program or a program dependent thereon is launched, a
prominent display (e.g., splash screen or banner text) of the Author's
attribution information, which includes:
(a) Name ("AUTHOR"),
(b) Professional identification ("PROFESSIONAL IDENTIFICATION"), and
(c) URL ("URL").

and the W3C license contains ...

1. The full text of this NOTICE in a location viewable to users of the redistributed or derivative work.


The condition that distinguishes these licenses is their requirement that notification be presented to the user, rather than simply incorporated in the documentation or materials of the redistributed software.  I hadn't found this stipulation in the other OSI approved licenses. Most of these resemble the BSD's requirements.

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.


I'm interested in determining whether such display requirements can be defined in relation to the volume of copies redistributed by a given party( the licensee ). 
The specific requirement that I have in mind is to associate the duration of the copyright notification display w/ the number of copies distributed. 

Let's say that the copyright display had to appear above any other windows on the screen for 1/10th of a second per the cumulative number of copies distributed by the licensee. Under this formula someone redistributing 100 copies of the software would need to display the copyright for 10 seconds while another party distributing 10,000 copies would have to display the notice for 1000 seconds. Obviously the display requirement becomes onerous past a few hundred copies.  The intent here is to inspire high-volume redistributors of the software to adopt a modified , 'commercial' , version of the license and thereby assist in funding the project's development community. 

* you can assume that all other tenets of the license are OSD compliant.

Would this formula constitute a violation of article 7 of the OSD ?

7. Distribution of License
The rights attached to the program must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties.

Rationale: This clause is intended to forbid closing up software by indirect means such as requiring a non-disclosure agreement.

.. or for that matter would it violate the intent of article 5 ?

5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups
The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.

could high volume redistributors be construed as a 'group' ?


background :

the software that I'm thinking of applying this condition to can be deployed from either a web site or as stand-alone desktop application. Therefore you'd likely have two overlapping classes of redistributors, those deploying the app as a web based service and those providing a download of the desktop version.


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