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Can code licensed under a clause like this:

Redistribution of this work, with or without modification, is permitted if
Bob Joe is attributed as the original author or licensor of
this work, but not in any way that suggests that Bob Joe endorses
you or your use of the work.

be used in a project using GPL, or does this make it incompatible with the GPL?

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1  
I'm pretty sure it's not compatible with the GPL: "You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein." –  Joachim Sauer Oct 17 '12 at 10:30
    
@JoachimSauer but it is not a further restriction. GPL includes a similar restriction. See Scott's answer –  MarkJ Oct 17 '12 at 11:35
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The important question is what "attributed" means. If it just means keeping the copyright clauses intact, there is most likely no problem. On the other hand, if this is to be interpreted as some kind of "advertising clause", then it's not GPL compatible. –  user281377 Oct 17 '12 at 12:23

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

You need a lawyer to get an absolute answer to this question, and I am not one.

However, what you're describing is very close to the BSD 3-clause license:

Copyright (c) -=YEAR=-, -=OWNER=- All rights reserved.

Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

  • Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
  • Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
  • Neither the name of the -=ORGANIZATION=- nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.

THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND CONTRIBUTORS "AS IS" AND ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER OR CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.

That license is generally agreed to be GPL compatible. When you say Bob Joe is attributed as the original author, that's very much like saying that Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice assuming it was copyright by Bob Joe. Also, saying but not in any way that suggests that Bob Joe endorses you or your use of the work is very similar to the 3rd clause. So if I had to guess, I'd say your quoted license is probably GPL compatible.


I would add, the reason the BSD 3-clause appears to be compatible is that the GPL (v2 in this case) has the following:

You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Program's source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the notices that refer to this License and to the absence of any warranty; and give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this License along with the Program.

So the question might be "Does 'Bob Joe is attributed as the original author or licensor of this work' impose an extra condition?" Again, if the copyright says Copyright (c) 2012 Bob Joe then I think by including that you've satisfied the original license and you're not adding a restriction that wasn't there in the GPL. At least, I don't see how you're adding any restrictions.


Finally, you weren't really clear if this was a license you were going to use on a new work you're creating, or if it's one you came across and you want to use it in a GPL project. If it's the first case, then for goodness sake, please just use the BSD 3-clause license. No need to create any confusion by adding a new license to the pile.

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Thanks for your clear explanation and your advice, Scott. –  orlp Oct 17 '12 at 11:46
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I'd like to add that GPLv3 allows this explicitly in section 7 (b). –  Istvan Chung Jun 3 at 20:11

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