Open Source Initiative (OSI) President Michael Tiemann has responded to queries about the organization's decision to "rush through" approval for a new badgerware license by saying that the OSI board did its best for "the community." Last week, the OSI slapped the official open source tag on Webtwopointzero-y start-up Socialtext …
We don't need no steenking badgers!
More to the point: WTF is a badgeware (or "attribution style") license? What is the license issuer required to do to qualifiy? What obligations are conferred upon the licensees?
The GPL (pick a version), for example, obliges the license issuer to make source code available, and the licensees are free to modify and distribute the code. How does your putative "badgerware" license differ?
Although i am not a license watcher this does seem like something that would be better in the GPL and given there has been so much going on with the GPL 3 isn't now the time when it could be raised and included if approved.
Additionally, although "badgerware" sounds like a silly title, too easier confused with such evils and spyware, malware, extortionware etc even stuff like windows doesn't make you advertise that you are using their software.
Source attribution I can more than understand wanting - whether it's in the licence or not, it's pretty cold to remove the original developers' name from the code. But having to have a big 'powered by Fettware' logo (no doubt not a small one either) will probably be a hinderance to adoption in the corporate arena. Not that I'd care too much whether the corporate arena wanted to use my software, but these guys seem to want them to.
I have not looked propperly at this license, but by reading the previous articles on the matter, this license is not as bad as you think. I beleive it requires a small logo and/or short peice of text to be displayed once for each use of the software (like a splash screen) for a short amount of time.
Like I said this is only what I've picked up from other articles, and so I may be wrong, but this doesn't seem to be anything more than "I wrote it, I would like people to know".
Incidentaly, it also covers a loophole that they should fix in the GPL, namely use of the code to provide web services. Someone like Google can legitimately use GPL'd code on their servers, heavily modified, and not release any of it back to the community. I beleive this is wrong. I don't know if GPL3 fixed it, but this practice is not in the "spirit" of the GPL and should be stopped.
Attribution licenses are not new ...
... as someone who has written commercial code *and* documentation for more years than I'm prepared to admit, I've had to put in attribution text/logos many many times. It's very standard with "pay for" software, DLLs etc.
For example, writing EDI software and wanting to use the SAP interface, means having to put in the appropriate logo and text somewhere in the documentation ...
... and surely people have spotted the number of Microsoft products that, when they start up, have small print in the splash screen saying something like "portions of this software are based on code from some small company that we bought and then crushed" or something like that?
For example, start up MS-Word, click on "Help >> About Microsoft Word", look at the long list of attributions for spelling dictionaries, templates etc.
It's more important to have this when you're not distributing source because otherwise the final user has no way of knowing who contributed to their application ... and we are all such fame hounds we need to let people know that *we* wrote that bit of code and not Microsoft :-)
Even when attribution is in the source I think you'll find most "users" out there won't read the source code. So having a popup or otherwise with your details in it is the only way of getting your company known as the best company for, say, progress bar dialogs.
Never ceases to amaze me how many people take BSD code and don't attribute it - although here, it isn't just the source code; binary distributions have to come with "Documentation and/or other materials accompanying" which include the text of the terms and the copyright of the included software. You don't need it in a web app, but it does need to be somewhere conspicuously available to an end-user (EG: About dialog, Readme file, etc). If you look at the Readme for a Windows XP distribution, you should find therein a reference to those bits purloined from BSD and others, together with the corresponding terms. That's fine because it is not a disruptive thing to do to a user, but I'm not sure about web apps - I think that's a bit orf - that's more of a distributed advertisement and less of an attribution and won't be needed and makes no sense if the user isn't actually sitting in front of a copy of the actual software.
Somehow I think it has something to do with Badgers, Mushrooms and Snakes.
SNAKES ON A SOFTWARE
"Aaaagh! A Snaaaaaake! A Snaaaaake! It's a snaaaaaake!!"
Sometimes the attribution chain does look kind of corny, those who remember MUDs may have seen stuff like "SomethingMUD based on MERC based on CircleMUD based on DikuMUD" or something like that. You can have that on documentation though, or in the help file, or the "About..." dialog box. It's less intruding and still keeps the chain of credits there.
I think the issue with badgeware is that they "badge" it, then hide the source code, not that much about badging it but making it into something not truly open-sourced, isn't it???