Subject: Re: OSL 3.0 section 6 ["Attribution Rights"]
From: Sanjoy Mahajan <>
Date: Sat, 13 Aug 2005 23:05:34 +0100

I like the more explicit attribution requirements in the draft.  They
make it easier for book publishers (and book authors) to use the
license.  A few comments:

- Endorsements.  The GNU FDL, in para 4(M), requires that an
  Endorsement section be deleted in a modified version.  That
  requirement seems sound although may be overkill: e.g. if someone
  adds color figures, almost no endorser would object to retaining the
  endorsement in the new version (unless the endorsement said
  "Beautiful retro line art").  Hidden among the clauses of the OSL
  v3.0, or in common legal understanding, is there a mild form of the
  GNU FDL endorsement-deletion requirement?  Perhaps para 4:

    Neither the names of Licensor, nor the names of any contributors
    to the Original Work...may be used to endorse or promote products
    derived from this Original Work...

  covers that?

- Negative attribution rights.  The Creative Commons licenses with the
  Attribution bit turned on contain:

    If You create a Derivative Work, upon notice from any Licensor You
    must, to the extent practicable, remove from the Derivative Work any
    credit as required by clause 4(c), as requested.

  That provision could be useful in case someone makes a horrible
  version of your book or program, and you want your name nowhere near

- Incorrect/false attribution notices.  One of the debian-legal
  regulars mentioned to me that the requirement to preserve any
  notices of licensing or attribution shouldn't require that you
  retain false or inaccurate notices, and that the Apache License v2.0
  fixed a similar problem in the Apache license.  I can appreciate the
  problem but don't see how the Apache license fixes it.  Anyhow, the
  relevant provision probably is this one:

- Apache License 2.0, 4(c):

    You must retain, in the Source form of any Derivative Works that
    You distribute, all copyright, patent, trademark, and attribution
    notices from the Source form of the Work, excluding those notices
    that do not pertain to any part of the Derivative Works; ...

  What about including in the OSL v3.0 the 'excluding those notices
  that do not pertain to any part of the Derivative Works', which is a
  sensible exception?  Also, the new OSL in 6(i) requires displaying
  licensor's patent and copyright notices, but what about trademark
  notices (as above in the Apache License and for source code in the

- Apache License 2.0, para 6:

    Trademarks. This License does not grant permission to use the
    trade names, trademarks, service marks, or product names of the
    Licensor, except as required for reasonable and customary use in
    describing the origin of the Work and reproducing the content of
    the NOTICE file.

  This provision is similar to the OSL except for the 'except as
  required...' permission.  The permissions might be useful for OSL
  v2.1, maybe less so for the v3.0 draft, since the draft requires
  attribution, which implicitly licenses using the trademark for that

- Wording.  The new sentence in Section 6 has subclauses (e.g. 'in
  copies of derivate works that you distribute') placed in spots I
  find confusing.  How about instead:

    Unless You obtain a separate license or a waiver of this sentence
    from the Licensor: (i) on copies of the Original Work and
    Derivative Works that You distribute, You must display Licensor's
    copyright and patent notices in the same places and with the same
    prominence as You display Your own copyright and patent notices;
    and (ii) in copies of Derivative Works that You distribute, You
    must display a statement to the effect that "Your work is a
    Derivative Work of Licensor's Original Work licensed under the
    Open Software License version 3.0" in the same places and with the
    same prominence as You display Your own trademarks.

  In this wording, the parenthetical phrases ('on copies of...') do
  not interrupt the description of what you must do (' the
  same places').  Should 'distribute' be changed to 'distribute or
  communicate', as in para 5?

  Do you think people will just type in the phrase verbatim "Your work
  is a ..." instead of filling in the template to get something like
  "This work is a derivative work of John Smith's original work
  licensed ..."?  I've seen many GFDL publications that blindly copy
  the recommended text and get, for example, "with back cover texts
  being no back cover texts".

  What if there are multiple licensors (e.g. you take code or text
  from several places)?  I guess you list all of them?  The list could
  be long, especially for a book (will it mean expanding the author
  list to include everyone who contributes just a paragraph?).