compatibility and the OSD

Rick Moen rick at
Wed Sep 22 22:56:28 UTC 2004

Quoting Bob Scheifler (Bob.Scheifler at Sun.COM):

> OK, I'm on the latter, and trying to understand why the specific AAL
> requirement, which isn't theoretical ;-), does not constitute a meaningful
> restriction on distribution of binary derivative works.

OK, let's back up.  I've always maintained (and have gotten agreement
from John Cowan, at least) that the substantive central idea of open
source is the right to fork.  We call software open source if, broadly 
speaking, the licence if any -- and other surrounding facts such as
physical access to source code and absence of interfering patent
restrictions -- grants to all and sundry the right to fork a codebase
and use it as desired.  

(A separate side-discussion often ensues at this point, about why common
"copyleft" restrictions are not considered to restrict "using codebases
as desired" to a meaningful degree.  Let's please not do that one today.
Past iterations are in the archives.)

The AAL attribution clause requires inclusion of the licence text with 
binary copies and display of the upstream author's name, professional
shingle, and URL at startup -- presumably on a theory that that
authorship would not otherwise be apparent in derivative works
distributed only in binary form.

The requirement is (I would say) rather obnoxious, but poses no obstacle
to adapting the covered code to any purpose whatsoever, nor to whom or
under what circumstances the code may be redistributed.  It has no
functional ramifications at all, but is just a mandatory billboard for
the upstream author's statutory attribution right -- and the right to
fork and redistribute for any purpose is fully present.

I'm honestly having a hard time seeing the difficulty, here. 

Now, to address your rhetorical question about whether I feel that _any_
attribution requirement could substantively prevent OSD-compliance, I 
imagine that any reasonable person would say this clause is Right Out:

    Redistributions of the Code in binary form must be accompanied
    by a simultaneous full-page advertisement in the _New York Times_
    identifying the Author, Professional identification, and URL 
    as responsible for code subject to the terms of this Extended 
    Attribution Assurance License present within your derivative work.

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