Dialogue with Intalio about GAP

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at gatech.edu
Thu Jan 4 07:54:11 UTC 2007

Rick Moen wrote:
> GAP is _close_ but not identical to the wording of the Attrubution
> Assurance Licence, which the OSI Board did indeed approve, some years
> ago.  Recent opinion on OSI license-discuss, for what it's worth, is
> that AAL would _not_ pass certification if it were proposed these days,
> because its wording somewhat suggests the intent to categorically
> require that derivative works have a "prominent display", i.e., that
> they have user interfaces, which would thus prohibit creation of daemons
> and similar code.

I agree that AAL is dicey, and I wouldn't support it if I had the chance
to help decide again.  However, the differences between it and GAP are key.

> In any event, no, it's not actually the case that MPL 1.1 + GAP is the
> merging of two OSI-approved licences, because GAP's wording does
> actually differ somewhat from that of AAL.

Here they are, "side by side":
Generic Attribution Provision

Redistributions of the [original code] in binary form or source code
form, must ensure that each time the resulting executable program, a
display of the same size as found in the [original code] released by
the original licensor (e.g., splash screen or banner text) of the
original licensor's attribution information, which includes:

(a) Company Name
(b) Logo (if any) and
(c) URL

Attribution Assurance License (excerpted)

Redistributions of the Code in binary form must be accompanied by
this GPG-signed text in any documentation and, each time the resulting
executable program or a program dependent thereon is launched, a
prominent display (e.g., splash screen or banner text) of the Author's
attribution information, which includes:
(a) Name ("AUTHOR"),
(b) Professional identification ("PROFESSIONAL IDENTIFICATION"), and
(c) URL ("URL").

The GAP has "[original code]" in the top line (instead of "Code"), and
it is not really clear what this is supposed to be replaced with.
Perhaps just the program name?

The GAP adds "source code form" to the top line, so by one (loose)
interpretation, when distributing source code, one must ensure that it
is not compiled into a "resulting executable program" version without
the required attribution.  If it is (even without the source
distributor's consent), the source code distributor could also be in

It removes "or a program dependent thereon is launched", the effect of
which is unclear and may depend on the license appended to or perhaps
what "[original code]" becomes.  This also makes the GAP even more
grammatically incorrect than AAL.  Apparently, as someone said, "is
launched" is supposed to be there.

The next changes are the most interesting.  "A prominent display" is
changed to "a display of the same size as found in the [original code]
released by the original licensor".  This severely weakens OSD #10
compliance, in my view.  Again, as mentioned, it is not possible to
display a given size with all "individual technology or style of
interface".  How do you reproduce a 500x100 logo (reasonable on some
websites) on a terminal, or even a desktop widget?  It is still possible
to have a "prominent display".  Also, if you're imaginative, a
non-existent attribution display can still be prominent if there's
nothing else (no display whatsoever) to distract you...

Then, subtly, "(e.g., splash screen or banner text)" is moved from right
of prominent display to right of "original licensor".  In the first
configuration, it was a helpful suggestion about what a prominent
display could consist of.  In the second, it is ambiguous, but could be
intended to make you think the display should be of the same form the
original licensor used.  This is key, because if it does mean same form,
it falls farther afoul of OSD #10.

The attribution requirements are changed to be more corporate-friendly.
   It says "Company Name" rather than just Name ("AUTHOR").  Strictly,
it would require someone form a company to use the license.
"Professional identification" (at most a few words like "Renowned
FreeBSD Software Engineer") is changed to "Logo", which can be a display
of any size of essentially anything.

Matthew Flaschen

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