Three new proposed OSD terms

Jason White jasonjgw at
Fri Mar 4 05:33:22 UTC 2005

Steve Mallett writes:
 > Russell Nelson wrote:
 > > We have always pushed people in this direction, but by adding these
 > > terms to the OSD, we will be proactively refusing licenses which don't
 > > meet these requirements.
 > > 
 > > 11. *The license must not be duplicative.*  

And what would the criteria be for deciding whether a license is
duplicative? Clearly the authors of any proposed license would believe
it not to be duplicative, otherwise they wouldn't have committed the
necessary effort to write it in the first place.
 > > 
 > > 12. *The license must be clearly written, simple, and understandable.

Understandable by whom? Clarity is always desirable, but often,
precise language is needed which may be difficult for people
without relevant legal knowledge to understand. Where there is a
conflict between understandability and legal exactness, I would come
down firmly on the side of the latter. Nevertheless, simplicity and
comprehensibility to non-specialists are both desirable aspirations
which the author of any license should bear in mind; but that isn't
sufficient to qualify these goals as approval criteria.

 > > 
 > > 13. *The license must be reusable*.  
Again this is a very desirable feature of licenses in general. It
could be argued that a license is duplicative if and only if it is a
non-reusable derivative of an already approved non-reusable license,
in which circumstances the proposed requirement 11 is redundant. If
the demand that licenses not be duplicative means anything more than
this, then it would require clear elaboration and definition.

I agree with the comments made in subsequent discussion to the effect
that the importance and gravity of the proliferation problem has been
over-stated; the burden of evidence now lies on those who claim there
is a problem requiring changes in the OSD to make out their case in a
detailed, persuasive manner.

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