Three new proposed OSD terms

David Dillard david.dillard at
Thu Mar 3 20:16:13 UTC 2005

To me there are two reasons to reduce the number of OSS licenses:

1. To allow code from one project to be used in other projects (for
those that want to take that risk).

2. To make it easier for projects to be adopted by organizations.

With #2, it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with organizational
inefficiencies.  But even if it did that's a good enough reason to make
reducing the number of licenses that really get used a goal.  Isn't
proliferation of open source a goal of the OSI?  If it is, then reducing
the number of licenses that are widely used is one step (one fairly
significant step IMO) in reaching that goal.

--- David


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Andrew Aitken [mailto:andrew at] 
> Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2005 2:38 PM
> To: Bjorn Reese
> Cc: license-discuss at
> Subject: Re: Three new proposed OSD terms
> I haven't been on this list long so if I don't have the whole 
> context of this issue please forgive me.
> Although reducing license proliferation is certainly a 
> necessary goal(IMHO), basing it upon one organization's 
> inefficiencies is not a good enough rationale. On the other 
> side, there is a large North American financial institution 
> that has managed an internal open source software approval 
> process with over 2,000 requests in the last two years, with 
> less than a 2% rejection rate, with 4 part-time people. So 
> today's license problem can be addressed by businesses.
> A better rationale to use may be to ask ourselves if the 
> continued development and usage of quality open source code 
> (for community only, or commercial purposes) is better served 
> by focusing on:
> 1) reducing license proliferation
> -or-
> 2) providing clarity to the existing licenses 
> I like the suggestion earlier, by Brian I believe, of a 
> recommended set of licenses, maybe providing use cases to 
> help in the decision-making process, and also in effect 
> providing a license taxonomy that will help people understand 
> their current license options and the implications of 
> selecting certain licenses.
> Andrew Aitken
> Olliance Group
> -------------------------
> Original Message:
> From: Bjorn Reese <breese at>
> To: license-discuss at
> Date: Thursday, March 3 2005 10:28
> Subject: Re: Three new proposed OSD terms Russell Nelson wrote:
> >  > On Wed, 2005-03-02 at 08:11 -0800, Joel West wrote:
> >  > > NY Times: Mr. Nelson, what does the open source 
> movement stand for?"
> >  > > Nelson: "We stand for free access to source code, and 
> non-duplicative licenses".
> > 
> > That's what OSDL wants us to stand for.  It's not as ridiculous an 
> > idea as you mean it to sound.
> But it is exactly as ridiculous an idea as Joel indicated.
> > Not true.  Martin Fink has a problem at HP.  He can only deploy 
> > software if HP's IT department has approved the license.  Every new 
> > license makes his job that much harder.  He's understandably upset 
> > that an organization he has no control over (OSI) is making 
> his life 
> > harder.  I don't blame him for being unhappy; I just wish 
> that he had
> I am sorry to hear that internal processes at HP is creating 
> extra work for Martin Fink, but he seems to have lost 
> perspective. In the long run HP saves development time for 
> each open source software that they use. Given that the only 
> "payment" that the open source author asks is the adherence 
> to the licensing conditions, I think that Martin Fink's 
> expectations are unfair.
> Instead, he should be happy that people out there are 
> developing quality software that he can use without having to 
> pay for the development and maintenance.
> I have great difficulty accepting the workload of Martin Fink 
> as a valid argument in favor of non-duplicative licenses, 
> whether it is part of the OSD or the administrative process.
> PS: I am in the same situation as Martin Fink with regards to 
> having to obtain legal clearance before I can use open source 
> software in commercial environments, but I have no problem with that.

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