License Proliferation

Russell Nelson nelson at
Sun Sep 4 05:00:26 UTC 2005

Ernest Prabhakar writes:
 > However, part of the answer *does* seem obvious.  I am NOT a layer,  
 > and I don't speak for anyone but me, but my understanding is that the  
 > *legal* obligation of the OSD trademark is that the OSI *must*  
 > eventually certify all qualifying licenses that are submitted.  Is  
 > that true, or isn't it?

My understanding is that we cannot be arbitrary.  We can change our
reasons for approval over time, but not over parties asking for
approval.  I'm sure that we couldn't get away with rejecting Alex's
submission because his name starts with A, and accepting Bart's
submission because his name starts with B.

If you look at what debian-legal does, you'll find that they start
with the DFSG (Debian Free Software Guidelines), but there's a whole
bunch more considerations you have to meet before your license is
considered a free software license suitable for Debian.  Last time I
knew, those considerations were only discoverably by asking or
searching the debian-legal archives.  In other words, there is no DFSG

 > My personal preference is that we (this list, representing the OSI)  
 > provide *recommendations* for good drafting procedures and non- 
 > duplicativity, but always be clear that these are not  
 > *requirements*.   I suspect it is the confusion between those two  
 > terms that has been the source of much angst.

No, that's not the cause.  With full knowledge, we (the board)
converted the long-standing recommendations into requirements (unique,
readable, and reusable).  The problem is interpreting those
requirements.  I say that a readable derived license won't change
anything unless it's needed to make a legal difference.  Alex says
that a readable derived license will make whatever changes are needed
to ensure readability.  He doesn't think I'm right, and has asked me
to submit it to the board for a vote.

In principle, we're doing exactly what debian-legal is doing.  If
we're wrong to apply extra-OSD requirements, then debian-legal is
wrong to apply extra-DFSG requirements.

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