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

Tzeng, Nigel H. Nigel.Tzeng at jhuapl.edu
Wed Dec 5 20:44:18 UTC 2018

There are regulatory and agency compliance requirements and the issue of public domain code for GOSS.  This has been documented and discussed in the years long NOSA saga and in the ARL threads on license-discuss and license-review.

It doesn’t “need” to be accorded any special treatment or consideration if you don’t want GOSS releases.  Some of us do and this is why the special purpose license category exists.  NOSA, ECL and other licenses are in that category to meet the specific (aka special) needs of sub-groups within the larger OSS community.   In the past the OSI did provide special consideration for these groups because it understood that different parts of the community faced different challenges and it wasn’t “one size fits all” so take it or leave it.

So, again, I like Larry’s suggestion that the granting agency’s logo be prominently displayed when you show your own logo is a suitable requirement in this scenario that still meets the OSD.

Government funded software is not required to be released as Open Source so being able to point to something and say “This provides public visibility of what we do and generates goodwill for our agency” helps to justify jumping through the extra hoops of public release because there is additional cost involved.  It is very easy for a program to say “our agency already meets the mandated 20% OMB goal so I don’t want to pay for the cost of a public release review”.

Reducing the friction to open sourcing software really helps those of us that benefit from the availability of GOSS.  We want to help them out as much as possible.

Speaking for myself,


On 12/5/18, 8:44 AM, "License-discuss on behalf of Jim Jagielski" <license-discuss-bounces at lists.opensource.org<mailto:license-discuss-bounces at lists.opensource.org> on behalf of jim at jaguNET.com<mailto:jim at jaguNET.com>> wrote:

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

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