For Approval: Academic Citing License

Johannes Kaiser jkaiser at
Sun Sep 26 20:55:54 UTC 2004

Hi everybody,

since Russell's CC to this list has not sparked any response yet, I 
decided to give you the whole story in this mail.

I have written a relatively large (about 5000 lines in C and F90) 
scientific program and would like to distribute it to the wider 
community by making it open source. However, acknowledgment is vital 
for a scientific career these days. Thus the license would have to 
include a condition that all (scientific) publications produced with 
the help of my program or parts thereof must cite a specific journal 
article. This condition is very similar to the widely adopted "you may 
change this code but you must reproduce this license" as everybody 
would be allowed to change my code and apply it to whatever they want 
as long as resulting publications reproduce one part of the license, 
i.e. the reference journal article's bibliographic data.

I have already received two contradicting opinions on the compatibility 
of the condition with the OSD by Russell Nelson (opensource, no) and 
David Burley (sourceforge, yes). So, I am very interested in the 
consensus of all of you.The critical question seems to be whether the 
condition actually is a restriction on use or not.

To make the discussion easier (and speed up the potential release of my 
software), I have added the condition to the MIT license and ask your 
approval for the resulting thing. Please find it attached to this mail. 
The differences to the MIT license are:

1. new name "Academic Citing License"
2. added the reference to the header
3. added paragraph 3 with the citing condition
4. deleted "substantial" from paragraph 2 to avoid misinterpretations

This should be compatible with all OSI-approved licenses. Combined work 
would have to require whatever the other parts license states plus 
citation according to the Academic Citing License.

Thanks for taking the time to think about this!
Cheers, Johannes

PS: The program calculates, roughly speeking, the amount of ozone in 
the "stratospheric ozone layer" from new satellite observations of the 
Earth...think of the nicely colorful plots of the ozone hole over 
JOHANNES W. KAISER, Dr. rer. nat.
Remote Sensing Laboratories,  University of Zurich
Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
fon: +41 44 63 55149, fax: +41 44 63 56842

On 22 Sep 2004, at 1:40, Russell Nelson wrote:

> Johannes Kaiser writes:
>> I absolutely agree with your point that there should be no restriction
>> on use. However, most OSI-approved licenses require reproduction of 
>> the
>> license itself in derived work. What I want is basically the same: You
>> may do with it whatever you want, as long as you reproduction of a
>> citation in the derived work, e.g. journal articles. Therefore, I do
>> not see that your concern applies.
> A journal article is not a derived work.  Let's say that your software
> produces graphs.  If I use your software -- just use it -- to create
> graphs for a journal paper, that's not a derived work.  No part of
> your software appears in their paper or any software distributed with
> their paper.  You can't put a restriction on the use of your software
> that requires them to say "Graphs produced by Kaiserware Graphworks".
> And yet your language below implies that if they merely use your
> program to help them produce their publication, they have to
> acknowledge use of it.
>> I would like to make one of my scientific programs publicly available
>> as open source. In order to make sure that the program is properly
>> acknowledged the license should include a condition demanding the
>> citation of a specific reference publication in all publications
>> prepared with the help of my program.
> Restrictions on use won't fly.
>> Since there seem to be different opinions, it might be good idea to
>> continue the discussion at license-discuss at
> Okay.
> -- 
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