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

Rick Moen rick at
Fri Mar 11 22:50:08 UTC 2005

Joel West wrote:

> for the record, calling Larry "controversial" was not intended as a
> slam. He's very knowledgeable (if not the most knowledgeable) in this
> area. But some people disagree with his strongly held views, creating
> some controversy. That by definition means he's controversial. But
> identifying that controversy doesn't carry the implication that he's
> wrong or shouldn't be respected, only that people disagree with him.

I was probably guilty of being a bit unclear as to my point, for which
my apologies.  I'll try to fix that in a moment.

In passing, I'll note that "controversial" does not, in fact, merely
mean "[some] people disagree with".  It connotes a strong implication
that (unstated) persons consider that party _unsuitable_.  In that
context, the charge is a facile shot -- a weasel-word -- the more so
because, as crafted, it cannot be refuted regardless of facts.

And the facts in this case are that Larry Rosen has propounded the
merits of contract-based licensing and exploring the possible need for
positive indications of licence asset, e.g., via clickwrap agreements --
which many find unpalatable, but not for any fault of Rosen's in
substantiating his view.  (This was in the much larger context of his
more-substantive work as OSI general counsel and secretary.)

On reflection, saying Mr. Rosen has "strongly held views" in _this_
group seems rather comical, in context.  Compared to whom?  If he'd
"controversial" in the rather artificially stripped-down sense you
outlined, then the rest of us are a veritable firestorm.

The "controversy" seems to be pretty much your invention -- posted here
twice, now --  making all the more eyebrow-raising your handwave about
"some others" who are not in evidence.

As mentioned the first time, I object:  The characterisation as stated
was scurrilous, and the shot at a departing volunteer simply lacked class.

My actual point lay more in this part of the message:

   OSI has the advantage of being run by people who have earned the
   trust of the open source community.  [...]  Nobody else has that 

The point is that we've seen a long trail of debate gambits like this of

> Forrest is right -- if OSI no longer wants to take an inclusive view
> of the OSD, some other organization will.

OSDL (and its veep, Martin Fink of DEC^wCompaq^wHP), perhaps?
Marius's shareware collective?  Or is this just an effort to browbeat
OSI with _hypothetical_ groups that could be on the brink of obsoleting

My point is that we've heard this sort of appeal many times before from
people seeking to badger OSI.  It was lame then, and it was lame now.  

OSI -- and its trusted personnel like Larry Rosen -- have a track record
of acting for the benefit of open source.  The other guys don't.

Rick Moen                                    Frater Magnus vos spectat.
rick at

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