License Approval Process

Chris F Clark cfc at
Tue Feb 15 03:16:56 UTC 2000

------- Start of forwarded message -------
Ian Lance Taylor wrote:
> I see a lot of people asking on this list why their licenses are not
> being approved.
> I think I've been on this list since it was created--in some small way
> I may have encouraged its creation-- but I don't actually remember
> seeing any license receive official OSI approval.  I may well have
> forgotten a few in the early days.
. . .
[and some good advice on releasing free software]

As far as I can tell, this list works like the revenue stamps for
liquor during prohibition.  You tell people they can only sell alcohol
if they have revenue stamps for their beverages and then refuse to
print up any stamps.

The list is supposedly part of a process to certify licenses as "open
source".  There seems to be no indication that they will ever certify
any new licenses (other than from "very large corporations") as
qualifying.  Among the licenses that have not been certified were ones
that were essentially trivial modifications to already approved

I signed up on this list to hopefully help with such a process (and
perhaps in the course find a license that my partners would accept for
releasing our currently closed software under).

While I have occassionally seen licenses discussed (and some made
better as a result), I must repeat that I have never seen any
indication that any would be certified.  The one semi-exception was a
license from a major company that one of the "name-brand" individuals
was negotiating with.  However, that license was not introduced
through the list, although it may have been circulated on the list.
(Moreover, I do not recall whether any software was subsequently
released or not.)

If someone wants a real process by which new open licenses come into
existence, I think their only hope is to start a new grass-roots
movement to approve such licenses (preferrably with a process that is
published and actually adhered to) and ignore the OSI.  A good process
might mimic that used for creating newsgroups with publication
requirements, a discussion period, and then a vote.  If a process like
that existed, some additional open licenses might come into existence.

You'll have to decide that that's what you want.  I'm fairly secure in
my belief that, that's not what the OSI wants.

Best regards,

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