For Approval: Open Source Software Alliance License

Brian Behlendorf brian at
Fri Sep 26 00:20:39 UTC 2003

Pulling a Kibo:

On Thu, 25 Sep 2003, John Cowan wrote:
> Mike Wattier scripsit:
> > yeah.. and IMHO this is the very reason that many who want to support the Open
> > Source community, will not do so. It is slowly becoming a cheerleading
> > section for the GPL.
> Nonsense.  Tell that to Mr. Behlendorf, open and notorious OSI supporter
> and promulgator of a certain almost-BSD-licensed web server.

Notorious!  I love it.

I don't agree with Mike's claim, but I understand completely where it's
coming from.  It's one thing to talk about a company's preferred licensing
model for software created largely outside that company.  It's quite
another to be a sole or primary author of a piece of software and try to
determine which licensing strategy is optimal, especially when you are
trying to make a living from it, and especially when you're a small
company and can't afford to build all the other associated services you
could actually make money from.

The essential device of an OSI license - the right to distribute modified
works without the copyright holders' consent - does mean there's a whole
host of business models the copyright holder simply can't make viable,
especially on a startup budget.  That's not a defect, or even necessarily
a shame - the balance of power in OSI-approved licenses is intentionally
weighted in favor of everyone but the authors.  This makes it hard to
reconcile, though, with the traditional model for small software
developers - that you get paid proportionate to the amount of value your
product is providing to people, roughly expressed as the number of people
using your product.  The fact that such a philosophy can't be supported
(at least not predictably and directly) by OSI licenses is what causes
people to see OSI licenses as "cheerleading for the GPL".


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