ZDNet article - why attribution matters

Sanjiva Weerawarana sanjiva at opensource.lk
Tue Nov 28 02:27:10 UTC 2006

On Mon, 2006-11-27 at 15:28 -0800, John-Sugar wrote:
> Attribution, why it matters
> David,
> I thought your article was very good based on the complexity of this issue.
> Below is my perspective as someone who felt compelled to add an attribution
> clause to our license in late 2004. I think we were the first to add this
> clause to the MPL. It appears now that almost every open source project with
> significant engineering salaries are also seeing attribution as a small
> request in return for writing and open source licensing their code – all of
> which is hard work. In fact almost every new open source project feels
> compelled to protect their identity in some way, not necessarily for
> monetary reasons though. I do find it very interesting that most folks who
> seem to take issue with this attribution provisions are ‘individuals’ who do
> not write any code themselves (but yet who seem to love the creative commons
> attribution license). 

With all due respect, I disagree. I live primarily in Apache Software
Foundation land where there are hundreds of projects without any
attribution. Furthermore there are tens of projects which have companies
footing engineering salaries and none of them are asking for

To me the value is wide and open adoption, unconstrained by having to
attribute the original developers.

> Lastly, I do think though, taking a bunch of other folk’s code, say >50% at
> a minimum and adding an attribution clause is not a good use of the clause.

+1. FWIW if a project is indeed openly developed and is a true community
effort, any kind of attribution is automatically out. In other words,
attribution only makes sense when a project is basically a closed source
developed but released under an open source license. 

Maybe the right thing is to have a different license which catches that
category of project.

Sanjiva Weerawarana, Ph.D.
Founder & Director; Lanka Software Foundation; http://www.opensource.lk/
Founder, Chairman & CEO; WSO2, Inc.; http://www.wso2.com/
Director; Open Source Initiative; http://www.opensource.org/
Member; Apache Software Foundation; http://www.apache.org/
Visiting Lecturer; University of Moratuwa; http://www.cse.mrt.ac.lk/

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