An explanation of the difficulty of solving licenseproliferation in one sentence

Evan Prodromou evan at
Wed Mar 9 20:58:10 UTC 2005

On Wed, Mar 09, 2005 at 11:32:12AM -0600, Fink, Martin R wrote:

> Well Evan - I have to say - you made my day :)


> This last one is the one that causes me heartache.  While you might
> think that these corporations have unlimited funds to decipher the
> encrypted OSI code of licensing, you're dead wrong.

I would be very interested to see license evaluation as percentage of
the TCO breakdown for Open Source software, and see it compared
against license evaluation for proprietary software.

> So, if we can stop the "open source community vs. the big bad corporate
> world" mindset that would be a really good start.

The problem is being framed as: Martin Fink has to work too hard, and
we all have to make sure he doesn't. Frankly, I don't care if you work
too hard, Martin. That's _your_ tough luck. I'm not in the least bit
sorry that the overwhelming deluge of available Open Source software
is cutting into your time on the golf course.

If the choice is between making it harder for Open Source users and
developers, or making things harder for Martin Fink, you lose.  Maybe
you should hire an assistant with the money you're saving by using so
much Free Software.

> Next, if it's helpful I'd gladly spend some time going through a set of reasons why an
> infinite number of licenses will stifle open source utilization rather
> than foster it.

I think that that case should be made, and that some evidence should
be given, rather than conjecture. From where I'm sitting, the increased
number of licenses approved by OSI over the last few years correlates
with _increased_ Open Source development and usage. And the direction
of causation seems to be in the direction from utilization rates ->
number of licenses, not the other way around.

In addition, I'd like to see some clear reasons that the OSI's current
anti-proliferation measures (requiring license submitters to list
similar licenses and why they can't be used) are insufficient. And why
the most-asked-for solutions (increased licensor education, reading
materials, and a list of recommended licenses) are being ignored in
favor of weird OSD amendments and apocalyptic hand-wringing.

> Finally, if you believe that an infinite number of
> licenses is not a problem and it's all hogwash, then ignore this
> dialog....

It doesn't really count as a dialog if you tell the people who
disagree with you not to participate.

But I do believe having an infinite number of licenses is a problem,
as I would be dead long before the page listing OSI-approved licenses
was fully loaded in my browser. Also, the OSI server would require
infinite storage to keep them around, and we'd need infinitely many
people on this list to review and approve them.

So, I think we can both agree that infinity is the wrong number of


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