OSI Board Meeting Minutes, October 20, 2006

OSI Board Meeting Minutes, October 20, 2006

Special Topic: Attribution Licenses


  • Mr Michael Tiemann, President
  • Ms Danese Cooper, Secretary
  • Mr Russ Nelson, Director
  • Mr Matt Asay, Director
  • Ms Laura Majerus, Legal Affairs (Observer)
  • Mr Mark Radcliffe, Counsel (Observer)
  • Mr Ernest Prabhakar (Board Observer)
  • Ms Michelle Matsubara (Guest from DLA Piper)
  • Mr Bruno Ferreira de Souza (Director)
  • Mr David Axmark (Board Observer)



  • People not submitting modified MPL licenses to OSI and yet still calling themselves Open Source.
  • OSI can’t consider unless someone submits or we change our rules.
  • No definition of Attribution that bounds behavior.
  • There are 3 existing OSI licenses that allow attribution.
  • Attribution as an historic FOSS topic, the University of California (UC) clause vs. the situation today (application layer code).
  • Handling of conflict of interest.
  • Intent…does OSI consider this or effect. The question is not "Can companies make a business without attribution?" The question is "How does Attribution influence the Open Source Effect?"

UC was an "advertising clause" problem. These don’t require advertising, they require screen display when using the code.

Who is using these licenses?

  • Folks who have successfully used attributed code? (Mr Asay has a list: Zimbra, Clusters, SugarCRM, SocialText).
  • Thriving group of users perfectly happy to reuse this code (are there any who are unaffiliated with the code originators?).

Bias on the Board

  • Mr Asay works for Alfresco, who use an attribution licence.
  • Mr Radcliffe wrote the SugarCRM, Zimbra, Clusters and SocialText licenses.
  • Ms Majerus has clients using these licenses.

Is there a new climate of acceptance for Attribution?

  • Related Attribution issues: Firefox vs. Debian and/or Fedora Trademark.
  • Overseas Desire for clear guidelines on Attribution (hackers want credit for their work, and they’ve all heard and agree with Mr Richard Stallman’s (Founder of the Free Software Foundation (FSF)) appeal for credit (GNU/Linux)).
  • Mr Linus Torvalds’ (creator of Linux) discussion of FSF desire to pull through attribution "GNU/Linux" one of his reasons for choosing Open Source over Freedom.

What are the mechanical problems with Attribution?

  • Mr Axmark has concerns about the cumulative effect of multiple attribution clauses.
  • Mr Tiemann says we could add a commentary to the OSD concerning how attribution can be bounded.
  • Ms Majerus is concerned about the effect of commentaries to complicate the OSD.

Is there a difference between infrastructure and application layer software?

  • Mr Asay says the Web 2.0 world requires a different sort of attribution than source.
  • Mr Tiemann says that attribution shouldn’t include warranty or other ancillary issues pulled through. Alfresco is an example of going too far (warranty requirements). Mr Stallman’s GNU/Linux campaign is another.

Change of License-Discuss process to allow consideration of licenses not submitted by the author?

  • Mr Tiemann wants to put this off for later, but OSI will have to decide before we publicly comment on Attribution.

Next Steps? Development of a Party Line?

  • We need to get as much Data On Attribution as we can plus Mozilla statement. (Ms Cooper)
  • SocialText will probably submit a license in the next two weeks or so. (Mr Radcliffe)
  • Ask Mr Eben Moglen (Legal Counsel FSF) whether FSF will submit GPLv3. (Mr Radcliffe)
  • Can we develop a good and narrow definition of Attribution? (Mr Tiemann)
  • Ask Ms Pam Jones (Groklaw) whether she’ll help us explain attribution and trademark law to the Hacker community. (Mr Tiemann)
  • PR Treatment of the issue? (Ms Cooper and Ms Sally Khudairi (OSI Board Observer))
  • Solicit comment from Mr Chris DiBona (Google) (Ms Cooper)
  • Draft FAQ by Friday after Thanksgiving (Ms Majerus)


Meeting adjourned at 10:00 PDT.