Attribution & the Adaptive Public License

Timothy McIntyre tmcintyre at
Mon Feb 5 20:02:04 UTC 2007

As the OSI community considers approving a new "attribution" license, 
there's a key point that I think has been lost in the shuffle.  In 2005, 
the OSI approved the Adaptive Public License as satisfying all 10 
requirements of the OSD.  The APL includes a specific attribution 
provision.  It says:

"As a modest attribution to the Initial Contributor, in the hope that 
its promotional value may help justify the time, money and effort 
invested in writing the Initial Work, the Initial Contributor may 
include in *Part 2 of the Supplement File* a requirement that each time 
an executable program resulting from the Initial Work or any Subsequent 
Work, or a program dependent thereon, is launched or run, a prominent 
display of the Initial Contributor's attribution information must occur 
(the "*ATTRIBUTION INFORMATION*"). The Attribution Information must be 
included at the beginning of each Source Code file. For greater 
certainty, the Initial Contributor may specify in the Supplement File 
that the above attribution requirement only applies to an executable 
program resulting from the Initial Work or any Subsequent Work, but not 
a program dependent thereon. The intent is to provide for reasonably 
modest attribution, therefore the Initial Contributor may not require 
Recipients to display, at any time, more than the following Attribution 
Information: (a) a copyright notice including the name of the Initial 
Contributor; (b) a word or one phrase (not exceeding 10 words); (c) one 
digital image or graphic provided with the Initial Work; and (d) a URL 
(collectively, the "*ATTRIBUTION LIMITS*")."

--APL, section 3.10(a).

This OSI-approved attribution provision is quite broad.  It can apply to 
*every* executable program that results from the Initial Work or any 
Subsequent Work, regardless of whether such work is distributed or not.  
In addition, it can be applied to a program that is dependent upon the 
Initial or Subsequent Work.  Finally, it necessarily complies with OSD 
section 10, because the APL was approved in 2005, after section 10 was 
added to the OSD in 2002.

I bring this up because I've seen a lot of discussion / debate on this 
mailing list about which flavor(s) of attribution should be considered 
OSD-compliant, and I think the APL is a useful point of common reference 
and can help light the way.  To ignore the APL when deciding whether to 
approve any "attribution" license would risk muddying the water even 
further, IMHO.  What's that Bob Marley line?  "If you don't know your 
past, you don't know your future?" 



Timothy McIntyre // Corporate Counsel
Terracotta // Open Source Clustering for Java

tel: 415.738.4014
fax: 415.738.4099

This email incorporates Terracotta's confidentiality policy, which is online at

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the License-discuss mailing list