[License-discuss] Open source license with obligation to display an attribution?

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at rosenlaw.com
Tue Dec 4 21:53:19 UTC 2018

Bruce Perens wrote:

> There is no problem if it's a request rather than a requirement. One can hope that scientific ethics applies....


Bruce, I think you go too far. A request to be ethical isn't enough. It is, however, reasonable to demand this:


Licensee must display the name and source of the embedded software in as prominent a manner and place as the licensee displays its own trademarks.


If the licensee doesn't like that license requirement, it won't get a license to the software. That is no more onerous than copyleft. 


Our job is to approve licenses that experiment successfully (?) with new license models, not to keep rejecting ways to obtain profit and recognition from software. Let us leave it up to the marketplace to determine acceptability of the license, as long as it is "open source software."




From: License-discuss <license-discuss-bounces at lists.opensource.org> On Behalf Of Bruce Perens
Sent: Tuesday, December 4, 2018 12:34 PM
To: license-discuss at lists.opensource.org
Subject: Re: [License-discuss] Open source license with obligation to display an attribution?


There is no problem if it's a request rather than a requirement. One can hope that scientific ethics applies to the kind of folks who make SAAS out of your software.






On Tue, Dec 4, 2018 at 11:54 AM <Simon.Cox at csiro.au <mailto:Simon.Cox at csiro.au> > wrote:

[Apologies - I subscribed in digest mode so my response to your initial comments was not threaded, and this won't be either - fixed now.] 


I guess what we are after is what you have referred to as a 'gesture'. Probably shouldn't have used the term 'obligation' in the subject line - I've been looking at the ODRL model, so am used to thinking in terms of permissions/restrictions/obligations. 


I'm fully aware that - as with pretty much all IP law - enforcement is up to us, so there is always a scalability challenge.  But mention within a license at least provides a starting point. In my initial post it appeared that I was jumping to a solution prior to laying out the requirement, so I attempted to clarify the use-case in a follow-up message. 


What would make our bosses happy (and thus willing to continue to support our contributions) would be: where a site uses our product as the primary basis for a publicly-available service, that a gesture of acknowledgment is publicly-visible. In non-legal English something like "if you use this software as the primary basis for a service with a publicly visible UI, even if under a new skin, whatever, then please acknowledge us on or around your landing page. Our preference would be that you display [this logo] with a link to [our webpage]". 


A standard-ish formulation would be nice. 


Simon J D Cox
Research Scientist
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