License Committee report

Richard Schilling rschi at
Wed Feb 18 02:48:00 UTC 2004

On 2004.02.17 17:43 Zooko O'Whielacronx wrote:


> So if I understand correctly, the Simple Permissive License and the
> (ideally
> edited) Fair License both pass the litmus test of OSD.  In addition to
> approving
> licenses which meet the OSD, the OSI also prefers to slow the
> proliferation of
> substantially similar licenses, and is therefore loathe to approve the
> Simple
> Permissive License.  Finally, it seems that brevity in a license is
> not valued,
> or else that the value of brevity is outside the scope of the approval
> process.

With all due respect to and the long volunteer hours 
they seem to be putting in, I would like to point out that their role 
seems to be that of a licensing approval body with some well defined 
criteria. They may be in flux and vague to some non-licensing types, 
but they are there, and those criteria are not easy to create.

And as such, their criteria and their general priorities are clearly 
stated.  As with any standards type organization it's important to 
recognize that people are working together to approve 
licenses they feel meet certain criteria and goals.  Such direction and 
backbone is rare to find in the Open Source world.

Sure, I argue quite a bit, but it's just debate.  I also expect that by 
definition, a licensing approval body like _must_ have a 
record of denials in order to demonstrate their goals (which I might 
add are for the better).

My hat's off to them for sticking to their guns.  They didn't even have 
my submission on the list but that's O.K., because if it's not meant 
for their purposes then at least they have said so.  They didn't even 
list my license as being under consideration, which is O.K.  When I 
submitted it I was told that there currently is a problem with the 
number of licenses being submitted in the first place.

> One thing I don't understand is if the Fair License would satisfy the
> goals of
> the Simple Permissive License while being even shorter.  Personally,
> I'm a bit
> uncertain about the Fair License, perhaps because I have no legal
> training and
> I am already familiar with the MIT (-original) license.

Keeping redundancy out of the mix is important.  Since 
has some trained legal people on their staff, I would suspect that if 
they think something is redundant for their criteria, then they should 
say so.  I was surprised at the reaction to the NASA license, but I do 
hope that one provides some stimulus for to evaluate its 
criteria.  Open Source communities, especially governments using open 
source might learn a thing or two.

This licensing thing is complicated ;-)

Richard Schilling
(who hopes he doesn't confuse people when he makes an argument on a 
variety of sides of a debate)
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