Subject: Re: APL license - What about the enforced logos?
From: "Ben Tilly" <btilly@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2006 16:11:29 -0800

On 11/14/06, Matt Asay <mjasay@gmail.com> wrote:
> Disclaimer:  I work for Alfresco. That means that my interest in this debate
> is equal to yours: you dislike attribution clauses, and I don't.  :-)
>
>
> > From: Ajeet Narayan <ajeet.narayan@gmail.com>
>
> >
> > After having read all the pertinent answers from the more experienced
> > people of this list, I understand that APL is not a valid Open Source
> > license approved by the OSI. Can you please confirm that my
> > understanding is valid?
>
> ASAY:  This would be an incorrect inference.  The OSI has made no official
> (or unofficial) decision on Alfresco or any other pixel-based attribution
> requirement.  It is therefore incorrect to say that these licenses are not
> valid.  They simply haven't been evaluated yet.

Until it has been validated, it should be presumed to be invalid.  If
you wish to claim it is valid, submit it.  If you don't submit it,
don't get unhappy that people point out that it is invalid.

> > It is my view that if ALFRESCO is not ready to comply to the
> > guidelines of OSI, then I suggest it explains this with a disclaimer
> > on its website to avoid misunderstandings. It is obvious that many
> > people may decide to use ALFRESCO just because it is presented wrongly
> > as an Open Source Software.
>
> ASAY:  You need to understand that according to Alfresco, Zimbra, etc. they
> are fully complying with the Open Source Definition today.  I think there is
> a suspicion that these companies are trying to sneak "fake" open source into
> the market.  I think if you were to talk with any of them that they believe
> sincerely that they are full open source citizens and do as much (or more)
> good for open source than some of the projects/companies you would
> unhesitatingly call "open source."

They may believe that, but they should re-read item #10 of the Open
Source definition.  I'm not sure how you're squaring your attribution
clause with, "No provision of the license may be predicated on any
individual technology or style of interface."  Certainly those two do
not square for me.  Perhaps your xterm comes with hypertext and
corporate logos built in, but mine does not.

This does not mean that these companies may not produce useful
software under terms that others find useful.  But that is not the
same as being open source.

> As for why people use Alfresco, I can tell you why:  because it's the best
> content management system on the planet, open or closed source.  But then,
> I'm biased.  :-)

Bias noted.

> > As far as the obligation to present a disclaimer in every GUI is
> > concerned, I need to make the following comments:
> > a. if I want to use parts of the code and deliver a solution using
> > _my_own_ GUIs I do not see why I have to include such an embarassing
> > disclaimer in every screen of my application. The "message" to my
> > users/clients would be that "they should not trust my solution and
> > rather go to ALFRESCO itself which does a better job"! This is against
> > the spirit of OSS and the interests of the OSS community.
>
> ASAY:  This, I think, is what we're debating, and I fully support the
> debate.  Keep in mind what I said before (and which was apparently
> misunderstood by Dave in the UK):  we should not try to read intentions into
> a license, because 10 years from now we won't have any insight into the
> intentions - we'll just be left with the license.  We therefore need to look
> at these licenses and their effects, and not try to guess at intentions
> (we'll probably be wrong most of the time anyway, which I see to an extent
> above in your best guess as to why these companies do attribution clauses).
>
> You could, incidentally, argue that the GPL makes you do all sorts of things
> you wouldn't want to do normally.  Just ask IBM - they don't seem too
> pleased to have Java under the GPL license (precisely because it doesn't
> give them full latitude to do as they wish with Java).  IBM is normally
> considered one of the "good guys" of commercial open source.

Yes, the GPL makes you do all sorts of things you wouldn't want to do
normally.  Things like publish your source code and let people modify
it.

However the GPL doesn't make you do things that contradict the open
source definition.  Therefore, no matter how unpalatable it is to some
people, the GPL is an open source license.

> So, I don't think it's a question of making source code *appealing* for you
> to use.  Most licenses are unappealing to someone, for some reason.  It's
> rather whether a license meets the OSD.  As noted above, these companies
> fully believe they are meeting the OSD's requirements, and not just
> half-way.  I think there's a latent suspicion of corporate intentions in the
> distaste for attribution which is immaterial to the real debate:  does
> attribution meet the OSD.

They may believe that, but they probably haven't read the definition
lately either.  In particular item 10.

> Incidentally, you'll find many companies happily distributing Alfresco,
> Zimbra, SugarCRM, SocialText, etc. using these companies' so-called
> "non-open source" licenses.  They are making money and have the logos up on
> their sites/applications.  It's being done.  So, while *you* may not think
> it's a preferred product because of its license, others disagree.

Incidentally, you'll find many companies happily distributing lots of
other non-open source code.  Open Source means something more specific
than, "Source is available along with some limited rights to it."

Further I'll note that your license becomes very problematic if at
some point in the future Alfresco goes out of business.  Is it
reasonable to have people be directed very prominently to a website
that is no longer functional?  And to not be allowed to change that?

Cheers,
Ben