ZDNet article - why attribution matters

John-Sugar john at sugarcrm.com
Tue Nov 28 18:04:37 UTC 2006

Fair points. To my knowledge OSI does not own the trademark for the words
‘open source’, only the domain name. If your whole value proposition is that
your software is open source, I agree it’s not going to get you very far.
The software needs to stand on its own merits. Open source for us is a
descriptor that says the source code is provided, is extensible,
redistributable, no restrictions of use and is patent free, etc. 

I’ve not met many of the OSI board members. I do know they are all very
smart, well respected group of individuals. I don’t know how they got their
positions, and why they were the chosen ones to create laws for everyone
else. The website states they have not even had a meeting in over a year -
http://opensource.org/weblog/. I’m just trying to understand how this
organization operates and who exactly are the ‘approvers’ specifically. 

Here is a link to our license: http://www.sugarcrm.com/crm/SPL 
It is a combination of two OSI approved licenses:
http://www.opensource.org/licenses/mozilla1.1.php  plus

For us though, I’m just voicing my opinion. Vilify me if you like, Sugar
Open Source is and will always be an open source licensed code base. This
will likely be my last post on this issue.  

David Berlind wrote:
> John:
> Thank you for cc:ing your response to license-discuss on ZDNet. In
> response to what I've so far seen from Michael, Larry, and you, I'd like
> to add my observations as an objective observer. First, I meant no
> disrespect to your values, wives, or families, all of whom require
> serious wage earning at some point.  I have a wife and three children. I
> totally get it. I hope you understand that I am neutral to the issue of
> attribution and I'm glad that my post has provoked some discussion here.
> But I am not neutral to fine print issues that affect users of
> technology, particularly where the fine print is missing. I  believe in
> my heart that a failure to disclose the fact that an open source license
> has so far not yet been approved as such by the defacto consortium to
> which the open source community currently looks for such approvals,
> qualifies as fine print that's missing. 
> I prefer to stay out of the debate of whether attribution makes sense or
> not and if it does, how much is enough. There are people here that are
> far wiser than I who are obviously prepared to argue the merits of
> various approaches. So, from my point of view, the line crossed has
> nothing to do with your selected degree or method of attribution (eg:
> pointing back to SugarCRM where no advertising exists). The line crossed
> is the one where one company or organization decides it's OK to rewrite
> the rules of open source or, in the case of "commercial open source" to
> declare a new class of open source without seeking any consensus from
> the open source community itself. One could argue that no consensus is
> required before a new commercial license is written and that is of
> course true. However, there isn't a self-policing community of
> commercial license providers which has established to seek a standard
> baseline for what it means to be commercial the way there has been for
> open source.
> Perhaps a consensus, when and if one is achieved, will yield a result
> that's favorable to your position on the issue. But even you point out
> that now that you've done it (modified the MPL), others are doing the
> same. Clearly, there's no consensus on how the MPL should be modified,
> or, at the very least, all those who have followed in your footsteps
> would not have felt the need to write their own modifications to it.
> They would have picked yours. You're clearly testing the boundaries.
> That may have not been your intent. But to this independent observer,
> your choice (and the choices of others) to modify the MPL without
> following the community's accepted practice for making such changes, and
> to continue referring to your license as an open source license
> (commercial or otherwise) has tested the customs of the community. It
> tests the limits of the clause in the MPL that allows for changes. It
> tests the OSI's process.  
> There's an old George Carlin bit where he talks about how, when he's
> driving on the road, everyone going slower than him is an idiot, and
> everyone going faster than him is a maniac.
> There are a lot of open source developers that don't have any mouths to
> feed but their own and are happy to operate within the norms of the
> community. And then, there will be people who, based on the precedent
> you've already set and are defending, will take it upon themselves to
> cross a line that even you wouldn't dare cross in modifying an existing
> open source license (while still referring to it as open source). You
> and others who have already taken matters into their own hands will of
> course have to remain silent. Pot, kettle, black. Think it won't happen?
> Trust me. There are people who didn't think what you've done could have
> happened. One day, "open source" will simply be meaningless or may even
> carry negative connotations (it's possible that "free software" could
> survive such a debacle, perhaps become stronger because of it).
> Why do I say any of this? Here's where I hope it becomes clear that none
> of what I just said is meant as a put down to you, Ross, Glenn, Scott or
> the others. The net result for SugarCRM and others who believe that
> associations with "open source" are positive associations for their
> brands will one day find that they are associated with something that
> means absolutely nothing. Or worse, something negative.
> You must ask yourselves if that's what you really want.
> db
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Michael Tiemann [mailto:tiemann at redhat.com] 
> Sent: Monday, November 27, 2006 10:08 PM
> To: Lawrence E. Rosen
> Cc: 'John-Sugar'; license-discuss at opensource.org; David Berlind
> Subject: RE: ZDNet article - why attribution matters
> On Mon, 2006-11-27 at 18:50 -0800, Lawrence Rosen wrote:
>> Hi John,
>> The issue isn't just "Why attribution matters," because it obviously
> does.
>> Attribution is already mentioned in lots of FOSS licenses. Attribution
>> is important to every author, not just commercial ones who work for a 
>> living (although most do!). Notice of authorship is so important that 
>> the US Copyright Act even makes the fraudulent removal of a copyright 
>> notice a criminal offense. 17 USC 506(d).
>> We should instead be asking: How much attribution is enough? How much 
>> attribution can be demanded in an open source license?
> This conflates two very important questions.
>> I don't believe anyone has argued yet that Sugar's license crosses the
> line.
>> Most of us simply aren't sure where the line should be drawn. You can 
>> legally require in a software license that licensees put neon signs on
>> the highway to announce your copyrighted work, but is that open
> source?
> First: is it attribution?  The Creative Commons folks seem to agree that
> attribution "in the manner specified by the author" is not a blank
> check, and they say so in the code (but not the deed) of the license.  A
> requirement for neon in attribution is not, strictly speaking, needed to
> satisfy the legal requirements of legal attribution.
> Second: is it open source?  Just as a lawyer cannot say for sure what
> the law says until a judge renders a verdict (and even then a successor
> judge can render a different judgment), the only way to know for sure
> that something satisfies the Open Source Definition is to put the
> license before the OSI approval process and see if it is approved by the
> process.
> M

View this message in context: http://www.nabble.com/ZDNet-article---why-attribution-matters-tf2715092.html#a7584294
Sent from the OpenSource - License-Discuss mailing list archive at Nabble.com.

More information about the License-discuss mailing list