Should the three new criteria be in the OSD?

Evan Prodromou evan at
Sat Mar 5 17:27:25 UTC 2005

On Fri, 2005-04-03 at 16:25 -0600, Fink, Martin R wrote:

> So, I really don't care about politics or
> philosophy, I just want to make sure that 10 years from now the OSS
> model actually still works.  That's all - plain and simple.

I think the question is less whether the OSS model works and more
whether the OSI model works. That is, whether advocacy through judicious
grant of trademark license (you can use the "OSI Certified" mark if your
software meets conditions X, Y, and Z) can encourage development and use
of Open Source software.

And, so far, it's worked great. I think that it can continue to work

I think we're all getting too caught up in worrying about a problem that
mostly bothers license lawyers (amateur and professional) and has very
little effect on the end user and on developers. As long as a license
meets the Open Source Definition, users and hackers can more or less
ignore licenses. Yes, there are edge cases everywhere, but the solid
core is: if it's Open Source, I'm free to do more or less what I want.

I think that proliferation is a soluble problem, but I don't think it's
soluble by the reactive mechanism that OSI has now. That is, OSI says,
"Bring us your license, and we'll tell you if it's OSD-compliant, and if
not, we'll try and help you fix it." This is a model that is just
begging for more licenses to be created. In a way, OSI's relevance
depends on the creation of new licenses.

Perhaps the way to avoid proliferation is to change the way OSI works.
Rather than waiting passively for licenses to come over the transom, OSI
should be more actively engaging organizations considering the Open
Source mechanism for their works, and help them choose among the
already-available licenses for their publications. If OSI catches
organizations at the beginning of the cycle, rather than the end of it,
there's probably a lot more chance of getting the organization to choose
an existing license rather than rolling their own.


Evan Prodromou
evan at

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