Three new proposed OSD terms

John Cowan jcowan at
Thu Mar 3 23:57:37 UTC 2005

Michael Poole scripsit:

> That is why duplicative or non-reusable licenses are a
> serious impediment to Open Source.

I think you overstate the case.  Licenses fall into three groups: simple
permissive licenses (do what you want with the code, just don't sue);
reciprocal licenses (your changes have to use my license, but you can
pretty much incorporate my component into other programs however you like)
and the GPL.  (I'm adapting, not adopting, Larry Rosen's terminology.)

All simple permissive licenses are fully mutually compatible, with
vanishingly few exceptions.  All reciprocal licenses are compatible with
each other at the level of assembling components.  Either type may be
compatible or incompatible with the GPL., sometimes for fundamental
reasons, sometimes for accidental reasons (patent-peace clauses are
GPL-incompatible, but hopefully won't be GPL3-incompatible).

(Note: The SourceForge figures cannot be treated uncritically, because
many projects are dual-licensed and thus double counted.  I'll bet almost
all the Artistic License projects are dual-licensed under the GPL.)

> but a license maze[1] is harsher on both software users and software
> producers.

*Users* proper, as opposed to producers who want to *reuse* other people's
code, don't have to care how many OSI certified licenses there are,
or which one the program they wish to use is licensed under.  The OSD
and the OSI between them guarantee that.

John Cowan  <jcowan at>
        Raffiniert ist der Herrgott, aber boshaft ist er nicht.
                --Albert Einstein

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