[Fwd: FW: For Approval: Generic Attribution Provision]

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at gatech.edu
Sun Jan 21 11:46:54 UTC 2007

Sacha Labourey wrote:

> they force developers to stick to
> some runtime behavior developers might otherwise want to change (i.e.
> displaying somebody's logo).

I believe it is the consensus that this is still OSD #3 compliant, as
long as the constraint is reasonable and technology-independent (OSD #10).

 While licenses like GPL/LGPL force
> developers to put the list of copyright holders in the distribution
> (i.e. this is a weak form of attribution), it does not impose any
> *runtime* constraint (i.e. I develop the software I really want).

This is incorrect.  GPL 2c requires that modified versions still:

"If the modified program normally reads commands interactively when run,
you must cause it, when started running for such interactive use in the
most ordinary way, to print or display an announcement including an
appropriate copyright notice and a notice that there is no warranty
[...] (Exception: if the Program itself is interactive but does not
normally print such an announcement, your work based on the Program is
not required to print an announcement.)"

Thus, if the original program displays a copyright notice (which is the
simplest form of attribution after all), warranty, etc. your modified
version must as well.  Note that it doesn't require a specific form or
size, and it exempts derivative works that are non-interactive (even if
the original was).  That is why GPL passes OSD #10 and GAP fails.

In one sense you're right, since OSD #10 seems to me a more precise
version of OSD #3 (i.e. you must allow derivative works to use any

> If the OSI were to accept GAP licenses, then I could very well imagine
> new license proposals with similar constraints pop-up in the future.
> Example: a company developing management software could propose a
> license to the OSI that would force derivative work to only contact
> their management server repository URL or to "announce its presence"

Fails OSD #10, since not all programs need support web access.  However,
I think this would also be invasive enough to violate OSD #3 outright.

> If some companies want to force such GAP behavior, they could license
> their main code under an OSD-compliant license AND bundle their software
> with some proprietary /non-OSS library that will be responsible for
> displaying their logo as well as providing additional "things"
> (features, etc.) that developers will feel are compelling enough so that
> they keep this proprietary library it in their own software (and display
> the logo screen).

This is possible. Of course, they shouldn't say the whole program is

Mathew Flaschen

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