Ryan S. Dancey
ryand at organizedplay.com
Thu Apr 12 22:20:06 UTC 2001
I thought I was going insane there for a few days. The most recent list
traffic has done much to clarify the points I was trying (and failing) to
So here's my root question:
What specific rights >should< an OSI Certified License enumerate?
Some of the OSD?
None of the OSD?
All of the OSD?
Coming at this from an outside perspective, I certainly believed that the
OSD was supposed to describe the framework of an "open source" license, not
the general "distribution" of a project. It is littered with terms which
refer to the license, or to things the license must or must not allow or
prohibit. I think that the terms "the license" and "the policies of the
distributors of the code" are used as synonyms within the OSD, and they
should not be.
The concept of "conforming license + commonly available sourcecode == OSI
Compliant" makes sense to me, but I think that it opens a lot of
questions/holes in people's use or abuse of the "OSI Compliant" term, as
evidenced by the recent series of examples.
I think that one reason people are struggling so much with drafting "Open
Source" licenses is that they don't have a roadmap. I also think that the
OSI should concern itself with license terms only, and not with the other
general policies of those who distribute the software. If they ensure that
the OSD is encapsulated in the licenses they approve, then as long as the
users follow the license terms, OSI Certified releases will ipso facto
follow the OSD.
If the OSI wishes to continue to concern itself with distributions rather
than just licenses, then the OSD should be re-written to get rid of the
references to licenses.
If the OSI decides to focus on licenses, I suggest that it will find the BSD
does not encapsulate enough of the OSD to guarantee the rights the OSD seeks
to enumerate. And if the OSI decides that the BSD license shouldn't be
considered "OSI Certified", what would be the real harm? OSI Certified
doesn't mean "Open Source", since that term was held to be un-trademarkable.
"OSI Certified" and "Open Source" aren't synonyms: "OSI Certified" is a
subset of all potential Open Source strategies. Saying that BSD-style
licenses aren't "OSI Certified" wouldn't mean that BSD-style licenses
weren't Open Source, it would just mean that the license itself wasn't
strong enough to ensure that the provisions of the OSD would be protected
More information about the License-discuss