Three new proposed OSD terms

Joel West svosrp at
Thu Mar 3 04:56:19 UTC 2005

With regards to license proliferation, there are only so many way to rewrite the MIT license. I think it makes sense for OSI to reject new variants unless someone comes up with a better template than we have, to solve the problem that Chuck identifies.

On 5:27 PM -0500 3/2/05, Chuck Swiger doth scribe:
>For example, the X.Net license is pretty much the MIT license plus the clause:  "This agreement shall be governed in all respects by the laws of the State of California and by the laws of the United States of America."  Likewise, the Intel Open Source License is pretty much identical to the old 3-clause BSD license plus the US export restrictions clause.


a) there are at least two flavors of viral license: module changes and all combined works (LGPL/MPL vs. GPL)
b) for viral licenses, there are some variations on derivative work and redistribution definition (both in terms of precision and the intent).

That alone suggest we will have a few more that are necessary.

More seriously, it's unrealistic to expect the patent issue to settle down any time soon. There are questions of which patents are in play (the plastic clip example cited by Matthew Garrett or just those in this product), the sort of revocation terms, etc. And frankly -- even more than the GPL -- no one knows what would be upheld in court. There aren't many companies making $1 billion/year in patent royalties like IBM, but few IT companies are going to turn the future of their entire IP portfolio over to the OSI board.

So there will be a variety of needs and views on patents. Just because Prof. Moglen comes up with something doesn't mean it will suit anyone's needs or worldview except Richard Stallman's.  Heck, even HP and IBM can't agree on a license.

Finally, OSI has a legal concern. An organization that says "we approved our members' stuff but now we're pulling up the drawbridge" could run afoul of anti-trust laws for restraint of trade.

So some growth in the number of licenses is inevitable. Publishing reliable popularity measures (SourceForge being a bad example) could steer people to important licenses, and eventually the presentation of the licenses could be organized into major, secondary, and specialty licenses.


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