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

Forrest J. Cavalier III mibsoft at
Sat Mar 12 18:49:17 UTC 2005

Rick Moen wrote:

> Joel West wrote:

>Joel>Forrest is right -- if OSI no longer wants to take an inclusive view
>Joel>of the OSD, some other organization will.
Rick> OSDL (and its veep, Martin Fink of DEC^wCompaq^wHP), perhaps?
Rick> Marius's shareware collective?  Or is this just an effort to browbeat
Rick> OSI with _hypothetical_ groups that could be on the brink of obsoleting
Rick> it?
Rick> My point is that we've heard this sort of appeal many times before from
Rick> people seeking to badger OSI.  It was lame then, and it was lame now.
Rick> OSI -- and its trusted personnel like Larry Rosen -- have a track record
Rick> of acting for the benefit of open source.  The other guys don't.

OSDL is entitled to its own motives and goals.  It is not entitled
to put "heavy pressure" on OSI.  (Not that OSDL did, but ESR stated
that SOMEBODY did, without stating who.)

My original point is that I trust OSI to "act for the benefit of open
source" by certifying licenses.  I do not trust it with any other
task or advocacy.  Here's why....

1. Advocacy may be a stated purpose of OSI, but not historical.

To be sure, the individual volunteers behind OSI have success with
advocacy and influence, but those successes are outside OSI.

The face that puts on open source is childish.  The
website design is adequate, the content is not.  The Halloween
documents posted at OSI are unprofessional and never belonged there.
Now that ESR is off the board, maybe they will come down and show
up on his personal website where they belong.

The Open Source Awards program is kind of a nice advocacy
idea, but that got started late, and apparently lasted only
3 quarters.

The "Advocacy Index" at
has 2 entries for 2005, and the one previous to that is
in 2001.  All add to a total of 6 since Nov 1998 launch of OSI.
(Two of them note board membership changes, so don't really
count as advocacy.)

2. The 3 new approval criteria are advocacy, but no convincing
   case has been made by ANYONE that it is necessary or even helpful
   to open source as a whole.

3. The impetus apparently came from a few select outsiders putting
   "heavy pressure" on individual board members.

4. If OSI volunteers are already spread too thin, then
    changing the task list, and taking on anything additional
    is risky.

I'm wary that OSI should attempt anything except
approve licenses according to the existing OSD.

Are these "badgering OSI"?  Not at all.  The process isn't
perfect, but OSD-compliant licenses get approved and others
rejected, with some advocacy on license-discuss along the way.

Keep up the good work!  Well done.

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