APL license - What about the enforced logos?

Matt Asay mjasay at gmail.com
Tue Nov 14 23:31:34 UTC 2006

Disclaimer:  I work for Alfresco. That means that my interest in this debate
is equal to yours: you dislike attribution clauses, and I don't.  :-)

> From: Ajeet Narayan <ajeet.narayan at gmail.com>

> After having read all the pertinent answers from the more experienced
> people of this list, I understand that APL is not a valid Open Source
> license approved by the OSI. Can you please confirm that my
> understanding is valid?

ASAY:  This would be an incorrect inference.  The OSI has made no official
(or unofficial) decision on Alfresco or any other pixel-based attribution
requirement.  It is therefore incorrect to say that these licenses are not
valid.  They simply haven't been evaluated yet.
> It is my view that if ALFRESCO is not ready to comply to the
> guidelines of OSI, then I suggest it explains this with a disclaimer
> on its website to avoid misunderstandings. It is obvious that many
> people may decide to use ALFRESCO just because it is presented wrongly
> as an Open Source Software.

ASAY:  You need to understand that according to Alfresco, Zimbra, etc. they
are fully complying with the Open Source Definition today.  I think there is
a suspicion that these companies are trying to sneak "fake" open source into
the market.  I think if you were to talk with any of them that they believe
sincerely that they are full open source citizens and do as much (or more)
good for open source than some of the projects/companies you would
unhesitatingly call "open source."

As for why people use Alfresco, I can tell you why:  because it's the best
content management system on the planet, open or closed source.  But then,
I'm biased.  :-)

> As far as the obligation to present a disclaimer in every GUI is
> concerned, I need to make the following comments:
> a. if I want to use parts of the code and deliver a solution using
> _my_own_ GUIs I do not see why I have to include such an embarassing
> disclaimer in every screen of my application. The "message" to my
> users/clients would be that "they should not trust my solution and
> rather go to ALFRESCO itself which does a better job"! This is against
> the spirit of OSS and the interests of the OSS community.

ASAY:  This, I think, is what we're debating, and I fully support the
debate.  Keep in mind what I said before (and which was apparently
misunderstood by Dave in the UK):  we should not try to read intentions into
a license, because 10 years from now we won't have any insight into the
intentions - we'll just be left with the license.  We therefore need to look
at these licenses and their effects, and not try to guess at intentions
(we'll probably be wrong most of the time anyway, which I see to an extent
above in your best guess as to why these companies do attribution clauses).

You could, incidentally, argue that the GPL makes you do all sorts of things
you wouldn't want to do normally.  Just ask IBM - they don't seem too
pleased to have Java under the GPL license (precisely because it doesn't
give them full latitude to do as they wish with Java).  IBM is normally
considered one of the "good guys" of commercial open source.

So, I don't think it's a question of making source code *appealing* for you
to use.  Most licenses are unappealing to someone, for some reason.  It's
rather whether a license meets the OSD.  As noted above, these companies
fully believe they are meeting the OSD's requirements, and not just
half-way.  I think there's a latent suspicion of corporate intentions in the
distaste for attribution which is immaterial to the real debate:  does
attribution meet the OSD.

Incidentally, you'll find many companies happily distributing Alfresco,
Zimbra, SugarCRM, SocialText, etc. using these companies' so-called
"non-open source" licenses.  They are making money and have the logos up on
their sites/applications.  It's being done.  So, while *you* may not think
it's a preferred product because of its license, others disagree.

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