To the keepers of the holy grail of Open Source

Jorg Janke jjanke at
Tue Jan 23 03:43:12 UTC 2001

Hi Larry,

Here some ideas and suggestions:

- If someone send s mail to license-approval, just acknowledge the mail, say
it might take 6 months and that they should evaluate using the xxxx license
in the meantime. This sets expectations and buys you time.

- If you are swamped with license requests, I think that the only way put is
to create a "standard license" with just replacing the name and a few
options to either select or not select (I guess mainly in the area of what
to do when re-distributing).  I "cleaned up" our license suggestion and it
might be a starting base.  The main difference to many other licenses are:
commercial use, require 3rd party license. Gone are the restrictions
criticized before. Links:  and the
"as much pure ASCII as a MS Windows system allows" version  .  It would actually be nice to make it
more readable for non-lawyers, but would need feedback for that.

- If you have a standard license, than I would definitely charge for the
approval.  IBM, Netscape, Apple, Sun, etc. will pay.  Use a revenue scaled
fee, maybe starting at $1000(Whatever a hired lawyer would charge)

- What you want to do (I assume) is help the "hacker" to have a license to
protect him/her - and that should be for free.  All the others using Open
Source as a publicity or marketing tool should pay by their ability.

- This would give you time to help the hacker, concentrate on new areas and
make the others pay for what they are looking for.

- I subscribed to the license-discuss for a while before sending my last
mail ... and I read more or less all licenses published on your site.  You
are probably aware, that most companies use the open source initiative as a
publicity tool "hey we are the good guys" - same as "open system" movement a
few years back.

- Consequently, I really think you guys need to change your emphasis from
approving Licenses to coming up with a "Good Open Source Seal" or something
like that.  I am in this industry for more than 20 years starting as a
hacker to senior management and back to hacker (because management stinks).
When I started, I thought that my source is the most valuable I have.  I
realized, that giving it away does not harm you at all, it gives the
recipient just a good feeling.   Even if a "bad" person takes it and does
something you would not like, the damage is minimal.

- The main difference between commercial software and Open Source is not
that you can get the source, but that you can legally use it without paying.
How many people are capable changing code of Apache?  But on the other hand,
how many people use a MS Word license for more than one person/pc - or
"forgot" to count a few users/CPUs/MHz/etc. for their Oracle or other server

- I think that you need to try to protect the (sill good) Open Source name -
Or it will simply end up as slapping your source on the web, offer
implementation and support (the only way to get it working) and sail under
the Open Source "the good guy" banner.  With the ASP model becoming more and
more attractive, the support fee just includes the prorated license fee.  I
just paid my yearly Borland JDeveloper support fee (which is just upgrades)
for $2400 - a new license is $2900 - effectively you are paying $500 for the
"free" implementation support after the initial purchase.

AGAIN: - Concentrate on the IMPORTANT parts - and License issues are not the
most important part for the Open Source movement .... well ... after
approving mine ;-)
The license can only be a part.

- Suggestion for the "Good Open Source Citizen Seal" administration process:
a) The person(s) interested fill out a form and "sign" it
b) You believe them and they get the seal
c) The seal is just a graph linking to a site where you list the "nice guys"
d) On the "nice guys" page are the criteria listed and a link to a form
which can be filled out if someone thinks that they don't follow the
principles by letter or spirit
e) If you get an email, you ask the seal owner for comment/change and decide
f) If required, seal is revoked and the page link put to a "bad guys" list
.... and I would even volunteer to set up the process and maintain these

P.S.:	Sorry about sending messages in something other than "base ASCII".


Jorg Janke		(203) 445-8182	Smart Business Management Solutions	Open Source ERP

-----Original Message-----
From: Lawrence E. Rosen [mailto:lrosen at]
Sent: Friday, January 19, 2001 02:13 PM
To: Jorg Janke; license-discuss at
Subject: RE: To the keepers of the holy grail of Open Source

I am answering an email that was posted to license-discuss.  It raised
several concerns that are widely shared.

I am writing both to apologize about the long delay in responding to your
(and many other) licenses, and to ask your patience.  The board of directors
of OSI is a volunteer group.  They have limited time to review and approve
licenses.  They have been overwhelmed by the very large number of licenses
that were submitted in the past six months or so, and have simply been
unable to keep up.  This problem will be a major topic for discussion at the
OSI board meeting later this month.

Believe me, we share your frustration.

The board has chosen to "cherry-pick" a few licenses for review and
approval.  In doing so, we have tried to consider which licenses will have
the "biggest bang for the buck" in terms of advancing the cause.  That has
perhaps resulted in more attention paid to the license proposals of big
companies and less attention paid to the smaller ones.  This form of triage
doesn't make anyone happy, but we haven't had much choice.  Even as it is,
we have only been able to approve a few licenses in recent months.

I was interested to hear your suggestion that perhaps submitters would be
willing to pay for license review.  How much would you be willing to pay?
This might make it possible for OSI to hire professional attorneys to review
licenses more rapidly.

We also intend to create "ready to use" templates based upon
already-approved licenses.  Once again, it is the lack of resources and $$$$
that is slowing us down.  OSI is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation.  Your
contributions to OSI are tax deductible.  You can help significantly by
contributing money to OSI.

As for "guidelines for non-lawyers," we'll try to do what we can within the
constraints that we cannot and should not give generic legal advice.  We
will, however, try to write license comparisons so that you can understand
some of the differences among the key open source licenses.

You also asked about trademarks.  Unfortunately, the term "Open Source" has
become so widely used, in so many contexts and with so many subtle meanings,
that it is useless as a trademark.  OSI has chosen to proceed with its own
certification mark (OSI Certified open source software) which can be applied
to any software that is distributed under an OSI-approved license.  This
certification mark is described more fully on the OSI website.

/Larry Rosen
Executive Director, OSI
lrosen at


- I am a bit frustrated about the process; I had to submit our suggestion
three times before receiving the first feedback.
- If you only want to deal with the Fortune 1000 - please say so.
- The current "ready to use" licenses available are inconsistent and there
is no guideline when to use what
- If you want to take the Open Source License seriously, but don't want to
deal with the "little guys", I suggest you come up with some templates - or
do something like eTrust
- I don't think that people would mind the alternative: use one of the
following templates or pay a fee for us looking at the license - assuming
that there are templates available and some guideline for non-lawyers when
to use which.

c) Open Source Trademark
- As you know, the 'characteristics' of Open Source projects are very
different.  Recently, there are quite a few companies using the Open Source
as marketing tool (in addition to the failed commercial projects)
- I think, you guys need to come up with some guidelines on 'ethical' Open
Source projects. I realize that there is a fine line ... and Tim O'Reilly
would not support an Open Book Source project similar to the original
- I suggest that you come up with some guidelines (and even approval
process) to separate the "good" from the "others".
- Some of the major points, I see:
        - Does it need to compile (out of the box in defined environment) ?
        - Does it need to be installable (out of the box in defined
environment) ?
        - Can it rely on or requite products only commercially available ?
        - Can you charge a download fee ?
        - Would you be able to use the product without paid support ?
- To test your criteria, you should have a look at - try
to install it, try to do something with it (you can't get support from if you have not paid for the estimated $100,000
implementation project)
- Another test criteria would be Compiere. Our intension is to make Compiere
THE ERP system for the little guy with 50% market share - by giving it away
and offering support for the not so technically/functionally inclined.  But,
our credo is, that it has to work out-of-the-box without limitations or
outside help - Our targeted guarantee: "up and running 2 hours after
download or shame on us". We see the main acceptance in third world
countries (who would not be able to pay anyway) resulting in an active user
and developer community.

Jorg Janke         Smart Business Management Solutions                Open Source ERP for the
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