Attribution Notices

Rick Moen rick at
Fri Jan 27 19:10:54 UTC 2006

Quoting Lawrence Rosen (lrosen at

> I'm now very confused. Is there some specific issue about attribution
> notices that is causing problems at Debian? 

No, but a poster to debian-legal claimed there was (concerning an
attribution clause in several of the v. 2.0-generation Creative Commons
licences), and his view is frequently cited as supposedly representing
the view of the Debian Project.  Fortunately, for reasons I mentioned, 
the assumed authority for this claim is absent.

I've just now had to refresh my memory about the specific objection,
since it's been a long time since I read the "summary" page.  (As it
turns out, I'd misremembered the bogus objection in question.  There 
have been other licences to which the cited objection was raised.)

> Who is this hypothetical Chinese dissident we're supposed to be 
> worrying about?

The "Dissident Test" is a gedankenexperiment test-case scenario often
applied to licences discussed on the debian-legal mailing list, that 
aim to arrive at opinions about the licences' DFSG-freeness.  It asks:
Do the terms of this licence prevent a user/creator of the covered work 
or its derivatives from hiding his/her identity, e.g., because the
local government is hostile to that activity?

Please note that it is not _in_ the DFSG.

> How does this all affect our review of proposed licenses?

It does not.  It's not concerned (per se) with OSI affairs at all.
Also, the licences in question in this case typically are not applied to

As mentioned, I've refreshed my recollection of the debian-legal
critics' remarks on several CC 2.0 licences, as summarised by my friend
Evan Prodromou at .

One critic objected to a clause in those licences requiring
redistributors and creators of derivative works to remove attributions
upon request from the upstream author.  He/she claimed that this
violates the DFSG3 (aka OSD3) requirement that any licensee must be
allowed to make and distribute modified versions of a work.

I'm sorry, but that's just silly:  Downstream authors remain
substatively completely free to make and distribute any sort of
derivatives whatsoever, their right to keep using the upstream
creator's name notwithstanding.  That is not a substantive restriction; 
I'm no less substantively free if I'm obliged to change "Fred Bloggs" to
"someone who doesn't wish to be identified".

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