Should the three new criteria be in the OSD?

Joel West svosrp at
Sat Mar 5 05:36:56 UTC 2005

Thanks to Chuck for a very helpful summary of where we're at.

On 10:11 PM -0500 3/4/05, Chuck Swiger doth scribe:
>Given the above, could Martin's concern about license proliferation be more accurately described as a problem of proliferating *reciprocal* licenses?

My sense is the problem is a little more complex:

#1 individuals who are FSF fans are concerned that the copyleft needs to be strong
#2 small and medium businesses won't work with the GPL (unless it's their own dual license) and want either a permissive or module-only viral license (like LGPL or MPL)
#3 big companies with financially significant patent portfolios

The corresponding requirements seem to be
#1 something compatible with the GPL
#2 something compatible with the Apache license or perhaps a limited scope viral license like the MPL or CPL
#3 acceptable patent terms

Since Group #1 is mainly focused on licenses issued by the FSF, the real problem is #2 and #3.

OSDL could play a major role here if they wanted to. They represent the important major IT firms for #3 (Alcatel, CA, Cisco, EMC, Ericsson, HP, IBM, Intel, NEC, Nokia, NTT, Sun) and a representative sample for #2 (Google, Lynuxworks, Montavista, Red Hat, Timesys, Trolltech). They have hardware companies, software companies, peripheral companies, embedded companies.

So if the OSDL could gain some sort of consensus on licenses (e.g. resolve HP & IBM's differing opinions over patent retaliation clauses), that means we could have a Golden list that meets the objections of most of firms out there in Groups #2 and #3.

More importantly, if there are serious disagreements (e.g. overcautious lawyers) between firms that cause them to make new licenses, rather than each make their own, perhaps we could have a consensus license (e.g. an improved MPL or CPL or Apache 2.0) to would reduce the further proliferation.


Joel West, Research Director
Silicon Valley Open Source Research Project

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