click, click, boom

Lawrence E. Rosen lrosen at
Wed Sep 26 17:11:07 UTC 2001

I'm lurking in the background reading the interesting discussions about
the MIT license and issues of the OSD being unclear.  As time permits I
may comment more extensively about those topics.  But one item needs to
be clarified:

OSI *certifies* software.  

OSI *approves* licenses.

This is a legally significant distinction.  

OSI approves licenses if and only if the license is consistent with the
provisions of the published Open Source Definition.  As are others on
this list, I am troubled by the fact that the OSD is unclear in some
respects.  I hope to work with the community in the future (as time
permits) to propose clarifications to the OSD for OSI Board of Directors
approval.  Aspects of licenses that are not related to specific OSD
provisions are irrelevant to the approval process, but those aspects may
otherwise become important to (1) your selection of third-party software
for your use or (2) your selection of an appropriate license under which
you will distribute your own software.

Distributors can apply the OSI Certified certification mark to their
software if and only if the software is distributed under an
OSI-approved license.

/Larry Rosen

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Rick Moen [mailto:rick at] 
> Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2001 12:19 AM
> To: license discuss
> Subject: Re: click, click, boom
> begin Greg London quotation:
> > If someone puts out a bunch of source code under the MIT 
> license, and
> > the distro is OSI certifiable, there is nothing to prevent someone
> > else from redistributing it in binary form only. Their only 
> "penalty"
> > is that they lose OSI certification.
> _Licences_ are OSD-certified.  Software is open-source or not, in
> accordance with its nature (including but not limited to licensing).
> Beyond that, you're not telling us anything we don't already know.
> > So, all I'm saying is that if someone looks at the OSD and likes it,
> > they can't just go and pick any OSI approved license and 
> have it give
> > legal enforcability of all the OSD bullets.
> Only _licences_ potentially have legal enforceability.  The 
> OSD is just
> a set of guidelines published by the OSI for licence certiification.
> > If I pick the MIT license, then OSD #2 is not enforcable.
> See above.  You are suffering category confusion.
> > I don't care what the "spirit" of the OSD is.
> Well, then, the situation is pleasingly symmetrical, since the rest of
> us aren't likely to care about your views, either.
> > But the OSD is not a license. 
> Nor does it purport to be.
> > And it is the license that controls how a distribution may be
> > re-distributed.
> That is self-evident.
> > Unless there is some other implication of enforcemnet to OSI
> > certification that I am unaware of.
> Do you have a point, or are you simply ruminating on the vagaries of
> power and influence?
> -- 
> "Is it not the beauty of an asynchronous form of discussion 
> that one can go and 
> make cups of tea, floss the cat, fluff the geraniums, open 
> the kitchen window 
> and scream out it with operatic force, volume, and decorum, 
> and then return to 
> the vexed glowing letters calmer of mind and soul?" -- The 
> Cube,
> --
> license-discuss archive is at

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