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

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at rosenlaw.com
Wed Dec 5 17:53:00 UTC 2018

Jim Jagielski asked:

> I am not exactly sure how the wants, needs, and desires of GOSS are different from the entire FOSS community in general... or why it should be accorded "special" treatment or consideration.


The needs of "Government" OSS are very much like the needs of "Free" OSS with respect to attribution requirements in licenses. GPLv3 and most other licenses don't address that GOSS concern, but it is not special to GOSS. Perhaps GPLv3 drafters ought to have thought about that several years ago....


As I suggested before, this is one model license provision that satisfies OSD #10, like copyleft also does, and satisfies GOSS:


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.




From: License-discuss <license-discuss-bounces at lists.opensource.org> On Behalf Of Jim Jagielski
Sent: Wednesday, December 5, 2018 5:43 AM
To: license-discuss at lists.opensource.org
Subject: Re: [License-discuss] Open source license with obligation to display an attribution?


I am not exactly sure how the wants, needs, and desires of GOSS are different from the entire FOSS community in general... or why it should be accorded "special" treatment or consideration.


Just my 2c

On Dec 5, 2018, at 7:26 AM, Tzeng, Nigel H. <Nigel.Tzeng at jhuapl.edu <mailto:Nigel.Tzeng at jhuapl.edu> > wrote:


Alas the OSI has been highly unresponsive and even hostile to the needs of the GOSS community.


We go around and around where GOSS lawyers state “we need X for compliance” and the response is “no you don’t, just use Apache”.


Even something as simple as CC0 can’t pass muster.


I agree with Larry...we should be allowing new license terms that meet current 201x community needs if it passes the OSD and not just block every attempt to change.  The community can decide to adopt the license or not.


While “badgeware” might be a little annoying, agencies spend a significant amount on software and while it is arguable that it should be open source it isn’t unreasonable for agencies to insist that it’s clearly labeled as GOSS to be able to get future funding for similar efforts and developers and agencies get credit for that work.


This is critically important for projects intended to be reused because while its a sometimes easy to get the initial GOSS public release done, fighting for continued funding for sustainment is a yearly battle.  GOSS projects are typically underfunded and community contributions are limited even when the product is being used.  Just being able to fund technical and community organization is difficult much less new development.


From: Stephen Michael Kellat <smkellat at yahoo.com <mailto:smkellat at yahoo.com> >

Date: Tuesday, Dec 04, 2018, 8:24 PM

To: license-discuss at lists.opensource.org <mailto:license-discuss at lists.opensource.org>  <license-discuss at lists.opensource.org <mailto:license-discuss at lists.opensource.org> >

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


On Tue, Dec 04, 2018 at 07:53:17PM +0000, 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
> Land and Water<http://www.csiro.au/Organisation-Structure/Flagships/Land-and-Water>

Since I am a fellow bureaucrat but for a different nation's federal government, I may suggest in blunter language my view of what Mr. Cox is suggesting.

A concern with any government agency is ensuring that funding streams remain intact.  My employing bureau in the US Treasury is stuck under interim funding as the Congress continues to fail to pass full year appropriations.  That leads to the absurdity that the sharp, pointy end of the spear has full legal appropriations to spend money while the actual tax collectors could wind up working without pay if something goes haywire in our specific legislation.

Having open source output is a great thing for any organization.  It can be difficult to quantify in a more tangible form when you are facing legislators and ranking agency officials who are considering your budget.  Badgeware would conceptually be a way for agency middle management to try to appease the political layer to better show what the results of all the spending happen to be.  I'm not saying it is a good idea but it is a normal bureaucratic response.

In this particular instance, since CSIRO is the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia, consideration on-list would be best if we looked at examples from the DoD and NASA.  CSIRO is a government agency that does good things.  I learned about them when I was in-region attached to the American Samoa Community College under the government of the Territory of American Samoa.

Mr. Cox can confirm if this is a better restatement of the problem.

Stephen Michael Kellat
Ashtabula, Ohio

Standard Disclaimer: http://skellat.freeshell.org/blog/pages/about-this-blog.html

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