GFSL and the 10 commandments

Bernhard Fastenrath bfastenrath at
Sun Nov 28 01:54:29 UTC 2004

Jan Dockx wrote:
> Yes, I believe it is rightful that such an organisation can request the OSI
> to nuance their position. The OSI Open Source Definition is just a best
> effort, created at a certain point in time, to describe this important,
> central idea. Of course it should be open to critique. It's not the 10
> commandments,

The 10 commandments are a mock-up ethical code god gave us to make us
understand that:

- even if something looks reasonably good at first sight it might be
   flawed or insufficient at closer examination.

- what an ethical code might look like, based on ideas from that time.

- we should go ahead and invent our own ethical code.

read on at:

> ordained by some metaphysical being. That is, if the OSI is
> to continue to stand for the important, large, common, basic, fundamental
> Open Source ideas.
> And, by the way, it is colored by US culture. This is not a surprise. This
> is natural. Here in Europe, this is clearly understood, and not seen as a
> problem, but as a fact we cope with. Applying these important, large,
> common, basic, fundamental Open Source ideas in another culture might
> require work and evolution by the OSI (which we see as global -- don't
> you?). One of the main cultural differences might be that European
> "liberals" are not as paranoid about government as US liberals (or maybe
> Europeans have more control over their government then US citizens --
> sorry, couldn't resist that one ;-) ).

We're working on this, we might soon reach the US standard.
(see also:

> OSI: please welcome the effort, money, manpower, expertise, invested by
> this government in trying to apply the Open Source fundamental ideas to a
> different culture / legislation. From the mails I learned they are willing
> to listen to positive critique, and fix oversights. But even if there are
> larger differences in opinion, please don't duel: don't insult people like
> this by putting in doubt their motives (they do have democratic checks and
> balances in place -- does the OSI?).

I haven't been trying to insult anybody, if I did I excuse myself
for being insulting. I tried to point out logical fallacies, which
is a very reasonable and logical process and free of emotions on
my side.

> The point simply is that people who are working with Open Source,
> globally, look to the OSI as a simple "trade mark" or certification
> authority. It makes things simpler if we can say that a license is OSI
> certified. If the OSI digresses from it's goal, i.e., being neutral about
> details, and focussing on the core of OS, people will stop looking to the
> OSI for this, and go elsewhere. Which leaves the space open for anyone to
> hike on the OS hype, with less moral intentions.

I don't even have any doubt that the license board of the GFSL
will use its power in the best interest of the open source licensors
and licensees using the GFSL. Even if there weren't any issues with
the GFSL itself the mechanism of modifying the license, possibly without
the licensor, the licensee and even the OSI being aware of that change
is asking all these parties to give up some control and delegate it to
the GFSL license board. While the licensor and licensee can do that,
just as they do when they delegate that task to the FSF, the OSI
should not do that, in order to maintain its own integrity.
While the GFSL itself may seem harmless other license providers may
see this as a precedent to write 'self-modifying code':
Imagine a large software vendor approaches OSI to accept a
self-modifying license. Is this still acceptable? To misuse the trust
in such a license might be a serious financial temptation one day
because software can get much more widely used if it is open source
software and turning a widely used software into closed source software
by modifying it's license without anybody's consent might seem
attractive to a predator (Dropping predatory behaviour is of course
a central message in the Bibel, but we haven't yet stopped eating
meat and we haven't tamed capitalism either).

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