Should the three new criteria be in the OSD?

Russell Nelson nelson at
Sat Mar 5 19:34:02 UTC 2005

Fink, Martin R writes:
 > if over the long haul the OSI will have delivered useful value to
 > the industry (and the community) when we get to license #500 and no
 > one can figure out what works with what?  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.

Thanks for chiming in, Martin.  I'm sure that we won't be able to
address this problem unless we all work together.

I'm not sure what action OSI could take or which OSDL could take to
improve the situation.  The obvious step of saying "No New License
Approvals" doesn't directly address the problem.  It just turns the
problem into a more subtle one of requiring developers to decide
whether they value OSI Certification enough to give up their desire to
have a better license (in their mind) than any existing licenses.  We
can't stop them from distributing their software under whatever
license they want.  It's a free world.

What if their code is good enough to overwhelm the cost of the
different license?  Yet Another License has a cost, and the licensed
code may be good enough to overwhelm that cost.

Or, let me put this another way: let's say that some organization
(e.g. OSDL) decided that three licenses was enough, and put together a
Linux distribution including only software using those three licenses.
Would it be a competitive distribution?  Would people desire software
not available under those three licenses?  I think that users of this
distribution would start to put pressure on OSDL to include N+1
licenses so they could pick up Python, or Apache, or some other
interesting software not licensed under one of the N patents.  Look at
the pressure Red Hat faces in not distributing MP3 support in its

I think that, rather than trying to enforce three licenses, we need to
sell the idea of relicensing to various projects.  It doesn't help for
OSDL to publicly attack OSI.  We're all on the same side; let's help
each other succeed rather than attack each other in useless
internicene battles.

--My blog is at         | The laws of physics cannot
Crynwr sells support for free software  | PGPok | be legislated.  Neither can
521 Pleasant Valley Rd. | +1 315-323-1241 cell  | the laws of countries.
Potsdam, NY 13676-3213  | +1 212-202-2318 VOIP  | 

More information about the License-discuss mailing list