Backlog assistance?

Randy Kramer rhkramer at
Sat Sep 22 16:58:10 UTC 2001

Just a different $.02, but relevant I think.

For Steve, I think that OSI recently started some other initiatives to
try to speed up the license review process (isn't there at least one
voluntary advisory committee reviewing one license?).

For everyone:

Maybe the OSI could publish a few figures, like:

   * How many licenses have been submitted for review

   * How many licenses have been approved or rejected

   * The average time from submission to approval or rejection (no
matter how disheartening this may be, it at least lets "customers" with
new licenses have an idea of what they're in for)

I also (think I) know that the OSI has at times devoted their attention
to licenses that they considered more important than others for one
reason or another.  This is not necessarily a bad thing -- if an IBM or
HP or whoever seeks approval for a license that might bring them "into
the fold", I think most of us would like to see prompt attention to such
licenses or issues.

I was going to also suggest that OSI establish some sort of target
throughput figures, for their own use, and for the user community.  Even
though the time from submission to approval or rejection may be rather
long, I suspect the licenses are under active consideration for a much
shorter period of time. In addition, I suspect that more than one
license is under semi-active consideration at any one time (meaning
someone reads it, has some questions, asks some questions, but goes on
to the next license while waiting for a response).

Can the OSI come up with some benchmark figures that they think are
reasonable to achieve, maybe something like:

Average time from start of active consideration to approval or
rejection: 4 months

Average license approvals: 1 / month (or average licenses that start
active consideration)

Maybe the figures should be divided to consider "major" licenses (those
significantly different, or with clauses that appear to require
considerable analyisis, compared to existing licenses) and "minor"
licenses (licenses almost the same as other licenses, with minor changes
but more than just "name and address" stuff).  Maybe establish two
different timelines, and maybe a reasonable target is approval (or
rejection) of one "major" and one "minor" license per month.

If the user community knows that, for example, 60 licenses have been
submitted, and the OSI target is approval or rejection of one or two per
month, they can see what they're in for, and may be more likely to
choose to use an existing license, (possibly on an interim basis).

The target for approval is just that  -- a target, not a quota.  If
really measured it should not be judged on a monthly basis, but rather
on something like a sliding 12 month window basis.

In saying all this, I'm not sure how to treat or count a rejection,
because rejections may not really be final -- they may just prompt the
potential licensor to submit another round of modifications or

Randy Kramer

PS: Just for kicks, I looked at some pages on and
counted 26 approved licenses, and see references to its (OSI's)
formation about one week after February 3, 1988.  It's now about 43
months since then, so maybe one license (approved) per month is not far
from reality .  (I recognize that this is a pretty crude measurement for
a lot of reasons -- I don't know whether OSI started attempting to
approve licenses near that time or not, I don't know how many they
rejected, etc.)

And, as I'm sure Rick would ask, do we need more than 26 OSI licenses? 
Why?  Aren't we just creating the Tower of Babel for Open Source
Licenses?  Which licenses are compatible with which other licenses?

PS: For Steve -- there is a web site which attempts to compare some free
licenses to help a software developer choose a license --  It was put together by Zooko

Steve Lhomme wrote:
> | begin Steve Lhomme quotation:
> |
> | > First, I don't know what are the pending-to-be-certified licenses.
> |
> | Ah, so yours was purely a _theoretical_ concern.
> Completely. Since they are pending, they are not mentioned on the
> website.
> | Well, please do talk to us about the evolutionary merit of some new
> | licence when you can actually point to one displaying such a trait.
> Well, I thought the OSI was there to approve or not the new licenses (you
> meet the rules, you don't meet the rules), not stop new ones because they
> don't add anything, anyway.
> Also if anybody create a new license (that's nearly my case, because I'm
> helping building a new open-source license), they'll be either reluctant to
> wait for an hypothetical OSI approval and will be waiting ages for nothing,
> or they just won't ask the OSI and start spreading it in other places. So
> what would the OSI be worth if they stop doing what they're here for ?!
> I know it takes time, and maybe money to do all that. But if they can't work
> on it anymore, why don't they say it ? (make things clear with the
> community)
> --
> license-discuss archive is at
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