My company has a client-side web application that we would like to open-source. We don't want to impose any restrictions on usage, except that any modifications and derivative works should contain a visible attribution, e.g. show our name and/or logo - we want it to be visible that our code is being used in the application.

As I understand, while licenses like BSD 3-clause contain an attribution requirement, it can be satisfied with something like a HTML comment only. How to license to ensure that derivative works are visibly labeled?

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    It is unclear what results you want from a derived site. Do you want it made clear to users of a derived site that they are not interacting with your company? Or do you want a user-visible statement that your company made portions of the derived website? Something else? Jun 26, 2014 at 10:23
  • @BartvanIngenSchenau The latter. I'll try to edit the question to make it more clear.
    – hmp
    Jun 26, 2014 at 10:37
  • Though requests for off-site resources are off-topic for this site, I think in this special case the question is on-topic, because the question for an existing license is not it's primary focus. And software licensing questions are questions which can get nice answers here.
    – Doc Brown
    Jun 26, 2014 at 11:56
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    Have you considered the case where (some of) your code is used in an app which does not produce any output? Is such an app barred from using your code, or exempted from your clause? If barred, then your new license would not be an Open Source license
    – jalanb
    Jun 26, 2014 at 13:13

1 Answer 1


I shall assume that your main purpose is to tell potential users of your source code what you would like them to do, rather than actually suing anybody. For the latter, please see your friendly lawyer.

I would suggest you need three things.

  1. Start with a base licence in a form that covers most of the bases, but does not have the specific clause you want. The advantage is (a) the language sounds right and (b) it probably has the right words just in case some lawyer does read it.

  2. Draft one single clause that clearly specifies exactly what you want them to do. Specify exactly your name and logo, how prominent it must be, where it must be shown and so on. Read other licences to see the kind of language to use. The Gnu licences are quite good at that, but any will do. Add this clause to the licence and renumber as needed.

  3. Write a plain English preamble which explains what you want users of the software to do in the simplest possible language. Put that preamble on the download page in prominent text so they couldn't possibly miss it.

Sounds like you can start with BSD and just add your own clause. Not that hard really, unless you plan to sue someone. Which you don't.

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    A good starting point might be the original 4-clause BSD license, which has an advertising clause that you can base your adaptation on. Jun 27, 2014 at 15:31
  • @BartvanIngenSchenau: Good point. Some people might want to add a bit more "lawyerese" but it served Berkeley well for a long time.
    – david.pfx
    Jun 28, 2014 at 4:34

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