An explanation of the difficulty of solving licenseproliferation in one sentence

Michael Poole mdpoole at
Wed Mar 9 19:09:22 UTC 2005

Forrest J. Cavalier III writes:

> Fink, Martin R wrote (in part)
>  >   When one or two proposals are
> > put forth (maybe by OSDL, OSI, and others) and if you think that those
> > proposals are actually harmful, then chime in.  The last thing I want is
> > to change the system into something that makes it worse.
> >
> Of course the OSD+3 proposal (and any proposal) makes it worse, because
> artificial controls in a marketplace are always inefficient.

It's quite an assumption that even withholding OSI certification is an
artificial control in an efficient market, especially since the
most-specified proposed change is to have an additional level of
endorsement.  Would you care to explain why you think that is a useful
model and a valid assumption?

> Publishing under an widely incompatible license will indeed supress
> the market penetration of your stuff, but the market will not be
> affected measurably.  So, I'd say that disparity is enough.  We don't need\
> artificial controls, and it is very curious that The Angry Economist doesn't
> agree. What do you have to say for yourself Russ?
> Further the premise about corporations "giving up" is either
> inadvertently faulty or downright deceptive.  I don't give up
> on grabbing a bag of potato chips because there are 75 alternatives,
> some with Olestra.  And corporations aren't going to ignore code
> covered under significant licenses just because OSI approved
> 50 other also-rans.  They are going to ignore anything covered
> under the 50 others, and won't suffer for it.
> Finally, mixing is almost never required. Most creators of
> derivatives have no need to mix code under two different licenses
> because they create adaptations which will retain the license.
> So we are arguing over what?  Less than 1% of the reuse cases?

The GPL incompatibilities of the OpenSSL, Apache 2, and other licenses
are -- whether real or simply perceived -- of significant concern and
have already prohibited some unknowable amount of code reuse.  Future
versions of those licenses or software may resolve the
incompatibilities, but that will only happen due to license "reform"
or relicensing advocacy.

Michael Poole

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