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

Craig Muth craig.mu at gmail.com
Sun Dec 24 18:04:37 UTC 2006

Rick Moen wrote:
> I think you might be confusing two things.  The action you describe is
> _not_ what Matthew Garrett spoke of, and would in fact be a clear tort
> by established principles of copyright law.

What I had in mind was rebranding the UI (rather than the license) and
selling, which I don't believe violates BSD/Copyright.  The SugarCRM
guy mentioned that some instances of this initially spurred him to add
the attribution language.

> Granted, Matthew was a bit vague in his rejoinder that "the BSD license
> explicitly allows this" -- but then, so were you in your preceding
> comment that companies "rebranding and charging money for open source
> without contributing back" are being "bad for open source".

> I believe what Matthew had in mind was the traditional (and specifically
> intended) BSD freedom to make proprietary derivative works based on
> BSD-licensed code.  In no way does that freedom grant downstream users
> the right to lie about upstream code authorship.

Agreed.  BSD does grant you the right to rebrand *the UI* (and charge
money) and so I don't consider doing so a lie.  Nor do I consider BSD
bad because of this.  My larger point is that I think attribution
could be a middle-ground between allowing proprietary derivative works
(a la BSD) and not allowing them (a la GPL), which could be a
compelling option for certain types of projects looking for a license.
 That is, as a price for using an open source component many
commercial projects can't reconcile releasing their own source, but
many likely wouldn't mind leaving attribution in the UI.  An improved
attribution license/provision could give some projects an option to
get some benefit, without going as far as restricting commercial
projects from using them without releasing their source and thus
greatly reducing their pool of potential adopters.

A common example of a business using open source is taking a big open
source project (like Linux) and making a few modifications to it and
using the whole.  Another common example of a business using open
source is taking a small open source component and using it in an
existing large proprietary project.  In the former case the business
shouldn't begrudge releasing the source of their modifications, as
payment for the tremendous benefit they've gotten.  In the latter case
it becomes less clear whether giving away the proprietary source is a
fair demand.  This is a dilemma commercial projects face quite often,
but at the same time can understand why many coders don't want to go
with an overly permissive license.  Attribution could be a great
option for projects that have an application tending more toward the
latter case.

> We're the people who take OSD #3, 6 and 10 seriously, and who aren't
> distracted by insultingly bogus analogies and special pleading.

I apologize for any insult unintendedly inherent in the bogusness of
my analogies:)  I was addressing the broader "is UI attribution
incompatible with open source" and "what is the value of attribution"
questions.  I agree that there are some issues that haven't been
addressed regarding the OSD and "the very bottom center of each user
interface screen" wording etc., when one digs into the details.

--Craig Muth

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