An explanation of the difficulty of solving license proliferation in one sentence

Russell Nelson nelson at
Tue Mar 8 21:54:24 UTC 2005

Ken Sedgwick writes:
 > The "Fedora Extras" folks are requiring all new projects to have an OSI 
 > certified license, and unfortunately this project has been using the 
 > existing license for many years and with many contributors.

Indeed, it would be easier to have your license approved than to
relicense.  On the other hand, political sentiment is clearly shifted
away from increasing the number of approved licensed.  On the other
other hand, this is a pre-existing license and unlike de novo
licenses, there are a finite number of them.

But more than anything else, it points to the difficulty of getting to
a world with only a handful of licenses.  If there really are to be
fewer licenses, projects must relicense, as painful as that is.  Eric
Raymond has found some case law which can be interpreted as allowing a
project maintainer to unilaterally relicense across licenses with a
similar spirit (e.g. Four-clause BSD to three-clause BSD, or MIT, or
AFL, Sleepycat, Python, etc).

It's not likely to ever be published by OSI as a whitepaper, but I
feel personally that it's still a useful document:

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