Article on open-source licenses (and the OSI)

Russell Nelson nelson at
Tue Oct 30 20:48:08 UTC 2001

Karsten M. Self writes:
 > The discussion of OSI certification is again unclear and IMO misleading,
 > perhaps reflection a lack of clarity on the part of the OSI.

Possibly.  It certainly would seem to be a loophole that you could use
the BSD license on binary code for which source is not available.  We
pondered doing something about this, then decided to give credit to
the open source developer for having some brains.  Without source
code, how could anybody call it open source??

*If* we were going to do something about it, I would say that we only
certify source code.  Binaries are derivative works.

 > The suggestion that the OSI focus on licensing conflicts is interesting,
 > but, given experience, hopelessly optimistic.  Education on the issues
 > is one thing, actively tangling in disputes quite another, from an
 > organizational, operational, and resources standpoint.

Yes, license compatibility is a morass.  If you thought Vietnam was
bad, wait until you see Afghanistan.  As Vizini said, "Never get
involved in a land war in Asia".

-russ nelson <sig at>
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