compatibility and the OSD

Alex Rousskov rousskov at
Tue Sep 28 19:25:43 UTC 2004

On Tue, 28 Sep 2004, Rick Moen wrote:

> 1. Claims that "open source" have other established meanings 
> evaporate when you realise that those are in wholly different fields 
> such as intelligence-gathering by spy agencies and others.

Is there a scientifically sound evidence that "open source" 
established meaning (among most folks working with software) is "OSD 
compliant"? Please note that this question does not imply that such 
meaning is or is not established. It is a neutral question. Is there 
evidence that "open source" has any specific established meaning other 
than you get some access to source code of the program?

> OSI literally invented the usage of "open source" as meaning 
> compliant with the principles expressed by the Open Source 
> Definition

Even carefully chosen words tend to live the life of their own. Even 
registered trademarks die because of that. The phrase "open source" is 
very nice but it was not even carefully chosen to avoid misuse. It has 
very broad inherent meaning (i.e., the common meaning of the words 
inside the phrase). OSI both benefits and suffers from that.

"Please use the phrase we inveneted the way we want to use it" is a 
weak argument, IMHO, when the words in a phrase are so general as 
"free", "open", "fair", or "shared". It seems to me that it is natural 
that whoever decides to use these general adjectives, has to pay the 
price of them being general -- folks will use them differently.

OSD is a great thing for the community. Let's focus on that. I do not 
see value in defending any very specific "open source" meaning. IMO, 
that battle was lost the moment the phrase was invented. Any clueful 
person checks specific licenses instead of relying on vague 
claims/descriptions like "open source". Your own experience with 
evaluating Source Forge licenses is a case in point -- you did not 
rely on Source Forge (or project) claims that SF software is "open 
source". You problably carefully checked every project of interest to 


More information about the License-discuss mailing list