Three new proposed OSD terms

Chuck Swiger chuck at
Mon Mar 7 20:33:12 UTC 2005

Steve Quinn wrote:
> At least if I am shopping for shampoo, toothpaste, etc. I can quickly
> review the products and identify those that I believe will fulfill my
> purpose. If I am shopping for a Shampoo/Conditioner combination, I can tell
> which ones meet that criteria.  The same if I want toothpaste with
> Fluoride.  This is not true when shopping for an open systems license.

Your local drugstore exists to sell such products: the more shampoo or 
toothpaste you buy, the more money they make.  Any retailer should try to help 
customers find the products they want, but they aren't going to try to tell 
you which flavor you like.  Whether you prefer Crest or Colgate; Fresh Mint or 
Herbal White; Flouride or SnFl + NaHCO3 is really up to you.

The OSI is trying to sell "Open Source Software", but I am not sure whether we 
are trying to "sell" new licenses to people shopping for an open systems 
license.  The end goal is having more good quality software publicly 
available, not to end up with more good quality software licenses.

Certainly the OSI could do more to help categorize OSI-approved licenses.

[ ... ]
> Complexity in the licensing (meaning both the number of "approved" licenses
> and complexity in their compatibility) will only tend to delay or possibly
> discourage such actions.

You're right, of course.  However, aside from Richard Stallman, most open 
source developers seem happy with something like [1]:

"THE BEER-WARE LICENSE" (Revision 42):
<phk at FreeBSD.ORG> wrote this file.  As long as you retain this notice you
can do whatever you want with this stuff.  If we meet some day, and you think
this stuff is worth it, you can buy me a beer in return.   Poul-Henning Kamp

I wonder how much shorter software licenses would be and how much easier they 
would be to understand if the compensation offered to those in the legal 
profession was inversely proportional to the number of words they used?  There 
is much to be said about an elegant turn of phrase, but brevity and honesty 
are yet more admirable.

No Copyright (that's what Berne is for), no philosophy, no patent-defense 
clauses, not even a disclaimer of liability!  It's open source, though, and 
even SysV vendors offered an alternate "bsdmalloc" library ("phkmalloc"?) in 
addition to their in-house libc version...


[1]: This license is from src/lib/libc/stdlib/malloc.c

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