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

Ben Tilly btilly at gmail.com
Tue Jan 23 00:26:47 UTC 2007

On 1/21/07, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> Quoting Ben Tilly (btilly at gmail.com):
> [OSD#6:]
> > I am uncomfortable in attempting to read people's minds.  Let me go
> > re-read the words instead.
> Make sure you read the posted rationale, too.  Oh wait, you didn't!
> So, it would probably, in that event, be futile to suggest you
> reacquaint yourself with the history of what OSD#6 was intended to head
> off.  Your loss.

I hope this comment wasn't meant to be a demonstration of your psychic
abilities.  Because if it was, it failed horribly.  And failed in such
a way that I am even more loathe to trust your mindreading.

Which is to say, I read the posted rationale as well.  I read it, and
found that it fits with my interpretation.  There are plenty of people
who have tried to have licenses that say things like, "This code is
free for non-commercial use."  In fact we had someone coming to this
list this month looking for a license like that.  But that kind of
restriction is exactly what what OSD #6 provides.

By contrast take SocialText's license (not the one they submitted, the
one that they use).  I'd have no objection using that for an internal
wiki.  (Which is frankly what most businesses would use one for.)
Many businesses would have no problem in having that logo on a site
used for a community discussion board.  So clearly there is no problem
in using that commercially.  Obviously if I was a competitor to
SocialText selling a derivative of their code, I wouldn't like having
to advertise SocialText everywhere.  But I've not been forbidden.

> > My understanding of those words, and the elucidating examples, both
> > tell me that you can't tell people they _can't_ use the software.
> So, a clause saying Andrew C. Oliver's example
> (Http://blog.buni.org/blog/acoliver/opensource/2006/12/12/The-Buni-Special-Attribution-License-Proposal
> ) of an "Exhibit B" clause requiring works to include a big, red
> dialogue in front of every screen saying "Ripped off from Buni.org
> [logo] without permission" would not strike you as contravening OSD#6?
> Andrew goes on:  "We'd of course allow folks who bought a special
> SuperGoodVersion license to remove our dialog."

It is absurd to have both a license granting permission and forcing
people to claim they don't have permission.  I would hope that
somewhere in our legal system there is some formalized kind of appeal
to common sense that would forbid that. Or perhaps not - the law is
not the most sensible thing in creation.

Still to my eyes the biggest OSD #6 issue with that example is the
fact that a large dialog will not fit on a mobile device, thereby
rendering the code truly unusable by an entire swath of businesses.
In fact, thinking about it, I'd agree that there is an OSD #6
violation on the grounds that the license shuts out companies
delivering content to mobile devices.  That is, of course, more
obviously an OSD #10 violation.  But in my books it is an OSD #6 one
as well.

But saying, "There are companies that wouldn't like this term"
doesn't, to me, equate with forbidding use of this software in any
particular field of endeavour.

> OK, it's good to know where you're coming from.  The rest of us can
> attempt to apply a more nuanced understanding that takes into account
> what OSD#6 was _intended_ to prevent, and acknowledges the declared
> specific intention (see: eyebrow-raising MuleSource quotation) of
> Exhibit B licences to make commercial reuse completely infeasible.

I'm not going to take your word on the intentions behind this clause.
After all we recently had a demonstration with OSD #10 that your
understanding of the intentions of the clause were completely
mistaken.  And your unfair characterizations of me have confirmed that
your psychic abilities are lacking.

I can only judge intentions by words and actions.  The words that I
see fit with my understanding.  Previous action in the form of
approving the AAL also fits well with my understanding.  And that
understanding is that it is OK under OSD #6 to have terms that you
know darned well some people won't like.  They can't actually stop
someone from making any use they want of your code.  But they are
allowed to make it unpalatable.

Which leaves open a question.  You see, your opinion and mine of the
intent of OSD #6 are fundamentally irrelevant.  What matters is the
board's opinion of the intent when they proceed to vote on the issue.

> > >They have interfered with _usage_ in a way that creates two classes of
> > >users, which is precisely what OSD #6 aims to delimit as outside the
> > >definition of open source.
> >
> > Au contraire.  The license creates one and only one class of users.
> I'm not even going to attempt to debate that issue further, as you've
> clearly gone transrational on this matter.

Rather than address the point, insult the speaker.

I'd appreciate it if you'd stop that, but I'm not sure you can.  It
seems to be fundamental for you.

Still if you claim that the license creates two classes of users, it
should be possible for you to identify two (possibly hypothetical)
users and explain how they differ.  If you are unable to do so, then
the license only creates one class of users.

> > Agreed.  Let the market decide.
> Again, hell no, bro'.  The OSI Board does.

I thought it was clear in the original context that I meant, "Let the
market decide which businesses treat their customers well."  Let me go
back and see.

Oh right.  The full quote was, "Agreed.  Let the market decide.  (And
the freedoms of open source software make it easier to challenge a bad

How you misinterpreted that to think that I was talking about what
licenses are open source I do not know.  But the fact that you did
weakens my confidence in your ability to come up with reasonable
interpretations of intent from the words used.

> If you simply don't like that, feel free to invent your own licensing
> concept and certification process.

You are arguing against a misinterpretation of yours.  I've never
challenged the right of the OSI to choose which licenses do and do not
fit with the open source definition.


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