I read the following paragraph and cannot really understand "give credit to"

However, in 2004, the president of the XFree86 organization decided to make a change in the distribution license. His idea was to force people to give credit to the XFree86 development team whenever certain parts of the software were distributed.

It sounds like a noble idea, and XFree86 was still open source software. That idea never changed. However, the new license was incompatible with the standard GNU GPL distribution license (see Chapter 2). This bothered a lot of programmers as well as most of the Unix companies, because it would have resulted in terrible logistical problems.

The ultimate solution was for X.Org to take over the development of X, which they did, starting with the most recent version of XFree86 that was unencumbered by the new license. As a result, the XFree86 project lost most of its volunteer programmers, many of whom switched to X.Org.

I looked the idiom in Give credit to (someone) - Idioms by The Free Dictionary

  1. To give someone praise or recognition
  2. To grant or extend financial credit to someone.

They do not seem make sense to the context.

  • Your first cited definition is the relevant one (as the more "neutral" recognition, acknowledgement, not really praise). Jan 7, 2019 at 14:26

1 Answer 1


In this context, the sense of "giving recognition" is being used. XFree86's new license required anyone distributing XFree86 to publish an acknowledgement that they were distributing XFree86, with the acknowledgement in a certain format. That acknowledgement could be referred to as crediting, or giving credit to the XFree86 development team.

This is closely related to the sense of "credits" like the credits at the end of a movie, acknowledging everyone who worked on the movie.

  • Thank you. I appreciate it very much if could provide any hint why this decent requirement conflict with GPL.
    – Wizard
    Jan 7, 2019 at 10:41

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