For Approval: Open Source Software Alliance License

John Cowan cowan at
Fri Sep 26 02:59:00 UTC 2003

Brian Behlendorf scripsit:

> > 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.


It was an ironically intended (to be sure) reuse of legalese: we have
open and notorious adverse possession of land, open and notorious
fornication, and the "open notorious evil livers" of the Anglican Book
of Common Prayer.  These last are those who live evil lives, of course,
not problematic internal organs.

> the balance of power in OSI-approved licenses is intentionally
> weighted in favor of everyone but the authors.  

Relative to the default situation in which the author has godlike powers
over the code, yes.

> 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".

But BSD-like licenses are the same in this respect: you still don't
collect any rents on your secret bits, because you have no secrets.
No, the charge of GPL-cheerleading can't be accounted for by something
that is true of all open licensing schemes equally.  IMHO it results from
the relative complexity of copyleft licenses, which makes them harder to
understand and lead to more mistaken impressions.  (And then there's
the Rogue, whose views are sui generis.)

One art / There is                      John Cowan <jcowan at>
No less / No more             
All things / To do            
With sparks / Galore                     -- Douglas Hofstadter
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