Subject: RE: Advertising Clauses in Licenses
From: "Lawrence E. Rosen" <>
Date: Sun, 20 Jan 2002 12:07:53 -0800

The "generally-deprecated advertising clause used by Apache" (a phrase
used in an earlier email to this list) is, in my opinion, an entirely
appropriate license provision.  The clause reads:

 3. The end-user documentation included with the redistribution,
    if any, must include the following acknowledgment:
    "This product includes software developed by the
    Apache Software Foundation ("
    Alternately, this acknowledgment may appear in the software itself,
    if and wherever such third-party acknowledgments normally appear.

The "rationale" accompanying section 4 of the OSD
( recognizes that
"encouraging lots of improvement is a good thing, but users have a right
to know who is responsible for the software they are using. Authors and
maintainers have reciprocal right to know what they're being asked to
support and protect their reputations."  How better to achieve those
objectives than by a simple one-sentence notice that must be included
with derivative works either in end-user documentation or in the
software itself?

The FSF website (, specifically
discussing the "obnoxious" BSD advertising clause, argues that
advertising clauses in licenses potentially lead to long lists of
acknowledgements in derivative works.  RMS wrote that in 1997 he counted
75 such sentences that needed to be included in one version of NetBSD.  

I am unmoved by this perceived threat to free or open source software.
The individuals and communities who create free and open source software
deserve to receive credit for their contributions.  Is it asking too
much to require the authors of derivative works to acknowledge the
contributions through simple notices?

Suppose the list of contributions grows long.  Is it expecting too much
for the authors of derivative works to include a text file listing those
contributions along with the software?

And finally, although it does impose a burden on the authors of
derivative works to take the time to identify the contributors of
software they are using, that task is *essential* to avoid copyright
infringement or breach of contract.  Those notices required by the
advertising clauses should help make this task much easier.  

All-in-all, I praise the advertising clause and encourage it to be used.

/Larry Rosen

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