For Approval: Open Source Software Alliance License

Ernie Prabhakar prabhaka at
Mon Sep 29 22:03:32 UTC 2003

Hi Sean,

On Sep 29, 2003, at 2:18 PM, Sean Chittenden wrote:
> Many organizations look to the OSI as a guiding light for what's a
> fair license and what isn't (or even what's considered a valid
> license!  ex:  Right now the members of this list (but
> hopefully not the OSI Board) are bent on arguing that OSI and the OSD
> is responsible for only permitting licenses that GPL compatible.  The
> GPL is not compatible with widget makers.  Why should widget makers be
> excluded from participating in the open source movement?  I see no
> reason provided their interests are protected.

Just to make sure things are clear: I don't think anyone on this list 
would argue that OSI should be"only permitting licenses that GPL 
compatible".   In fact, the OSI has approved numerous licenses that are 
GPL-incompatible.   Further, any of us come from the BSD tradition and 
have our own issues with the GPL, though we try to respect and 
understand their 'business model'.

  Also, you should realize that while the OSI board makes decisions that 
are -informed by- this dialogue, but since this group doesn't speak 
with a coherent voice they aren't required to follow us in any formal 
way.  In fact, I think I've noticed several distinct criticisms of your 
license, which its important not to confuse:

A.  It is morally wrong to create a license incompatible with the GPL

B.  It is pointless to create such a license, since you're solving a 
non-existing problem.

C.  As a practical matter, it is a bad idea to openly criticize the GPL

D.  The license as written doesn't accomplish your stated goal, 
regardless of whether or not that goal as valid

E.   There's other licenses (like the EU DataGrid) which accomplish 
your purposes just as effectively, and we should avoid needless 
duplication, so please use that instead.

I think that covers everything I've seen.    I'm not saying all (or 
any) of the criticisms are valid, or any of them are universal; there's 
probably several people on the list who probably approve of your 
license.    There's also people who would agree with these criticisms 
but still argue that you deserve OSD approval.

The important thing, in my opinion, is that these issues reflect the 
various viewpoints you will encounter in the 'wider world', and in fact 
this is a relatively gentle way to get constructive feedback ahead of 
time.  To your credit, you do seem to be willing to listen and modify 
your views -- and your license -- to address this input.  I encourage 
you to continue doing so, and particularly to understand the different 
ways your license could be misunderstood, so as to lead to a better (or 
different) strategy for achieving your goals in a way that will win the 
broadest possible support.   That I think should be your goal in this 
process - to achieve your central purpose with as little negative 
impact as possible.

Enough meta-rambling; back to the debate...

-- Ernie P.

license-discuss archive is at

More information about the License-discuss mailing list