[Fwd: FW: For Approval: Generic Attribution Provision]

Brian Behlendorf brian at collab.net
Wed Dec 13 17:19:04 UTC 2006

On Wed, 13 Dec 2006, Matthew Flaschen wrote:
> Lawrence Rosen wrote:
> I'm curious why so many
>> companies seem to want such strong attribution in UIs of other companies'
>> modified software?
> That's a very good question, and I don't know for sure.  However, I
> think part of it is that they don't take OSD #3 seriously.  They expect
> copies to have minor or non-existent changes, and want to emphasize that
> they own and control the program; the accuracy of this obviously varies
> considerably.

There are an unfortunate number of Open Source projects where 
contributions from people who are not the primary authors are nil; and 
likewise, there are examples of non-OS-but-published-source projects where 
outside contributions are not nil.  We all know that OS licensing is not 
magic pixie dust that will guarantee outside contributions; even high 
quality code and a willing core developer pool can't do much if the domain 
is too specialized or the skillset gap between users and developers is too 
great.  Therefore, sadly IMHO, most of the business value of Open Source 
licensing is seen to be in rapid adoption, easy redistribution, and a 
better way to build ISV/VAR partnerships.  So, if you're the company 
funding that Open Source project, you've got to do things to address the 
problem that your competitors can build support and customization 
businesses on your code without the concurrent investment; and that people 
who are your partners today could easily become competitors tomorrow by 
shifting a line in their product roadmaps.  This is completely aside from 
the point about whether we need a GPL-for-web-services, as there are many 
companies these days that are services-only.

So in that context, it's not surprising that some companies feel that even 
the GPL's quid pro quo is not strong enough, because a service-only 
competitor won't have interesting code.  Instead, the requirement is "make 
sure your customers know that I wrote the code you're making money from", 
with a link, thereby giving the original author some unfair advantage over 
redistributors.  Presumably most original authors also offer a second 
license, for real dollars, that removes the logo, the classic dual 
licensing approach.

> Probably the drafters didn't really fathom people
> extracting code for totally unrelated use.

Oh they probably do, they just probably assign zero value to it.


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