Attribution & the Adaptive Public License

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at
Wed Feb 7 02:06:14 UTC 2007

Rick Moen wrote:
> Quoting Timothy McIntyre (tmcintyre at
>> [Adaptive Public License] necessarily complies with OSD section 10,
>> because the APL was approved in 2005, after section 10 was added to
>   ^^^^^^^
>> the OSD in 2002.
> My wife has a standard old joke about the Non Sequitur Society.  
> (Their motto:  "We don't make much sense, but we do like pizza.") 
> If there is such a group, just wave a printout of the above reasoning; 
> I think you just aced their entrance exam.

I don't think it's a total non-sequitur. The license does mandate
attribution/advertising (including a logo) similar to AAL for all runs,
with no provision for non-interactive or text-only programs.

> Whether you as the creator of a Web application think there's a problem
> _at all_ depends on whether you merely want credit (attribution)
> included in the program output of works you create and distribute [...]
> If the former, rejoice!  Just put insert your
> copyright notice and publish using your choice of simple permissive
> licence (BSD, etc.).

BSD doesn't require programs to output attribution.  GPLv2 does (as a
copyright statement), if the
original program does, and only when the modified program is running
interactively (if at all).  See section 2.c.  However, GPL sets no
constraints on the form of attribution.

> If you publish your CRM app's source code under any of the OSI-approved open
> source licences (either permissive or copyleft), could
> lawfully scoop up your source code, modify and extend it to suit that
> firm's needs, and use it to compete with the SugarCRM company, _without_
> the displayed program output even revealing to customers and other
> outsiders that it's re-using SugarCRM's work.

That's not true.  Please read the GPLv2 section I pointed to (this is
not the first email I've mentioned this).  GPLv2 can require a copyright
statement that would mention SugarCRM.

> But getting back to the point, the "Exhibit B" clauses do address the 
> entirely real ASP Loophole concern for Web apps -- but do so in a clumsy 
> fashion that impairs reuse; in particular, commercial reuse.

Moreover, they make reuse non-interactive (or text-only) reuse impossible.

>  The alternative has been
> mentioned here before:  It's a simple About screen, that is required to
> be available from the main display.  To ease OSD#10
> technological-neutrality concerns, make it be required only where the
> derivative has program output and be in whatever supported format best
> approximates the desired name + logo + URL display.  E.g., for a
> derivative with only spoken-word output for the blind, that "About"
> information could then reasonably be the spoken name of the firm + URL.
> We've not yet seen such a licence.

We saw one 15 years ago.  Hopefully, I've driven the point home by now
and this can be the last time.

> I'd be glad to write one, as a substitute Exhibit B.  The above almost
> qualifies by itself, I'd imagine.

What do you mean "the above"?  Your suggestions, or the APL?

  (Unlike the ones we've seen thus far,
> with the honorable exception of GAP, mine would aspire to be templated
> and usable by anyone.)

Sort of a "General" Public License?  Sorry. :)

Matthew Flaschen

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