Attribution & the Adaptive Public License

Andrew C. Oliver acoliver at
Mon Feb 5 21:34:16 UTC 2007

It is a good point.  One thing about the wording is that it says it may 
not require more than...  One could argue that an attached provision 
could de-open source it.  Though the license is approved and allows 
exactly this kind of adware provision. 

Do you think SocialText would be willing to add this to their GAP 
supporting arguments page?  If not I again suggest that I'd be happy to 
help organize a paper on our wiki supporting the provision (even though 
I am not for the last version that was submitted and this form of adware 


Timothy McIntyre wrote:
> 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 
> --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?"
> Tim

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