Policy Questions (WAS: License Committee Report)

Ernest Prabhakar prabhaka at apple.com
Fri Sep 9 17:35:33 UTC 2005

Dear Russ,

I realize this is a difficult situation, and I appreciate that you  
and the rest of the Board are doing your best under trying  
circumstances. Let me try to summarize where I think the real  
problems are:

On Sep 9, 2005, at 9:13 AM, Russell Nelson wrote:
> you're still wrong about "Someone changed the rules."
> OSI has always done exactly what Eric describes.  If you want to
> maintain that we changed the rules about how OSI operates, then you
> should explain what you thought the rules were previously, and what
> you thought the rules were changed to.

Speaking only for myself:

*MY* impression was the license-discuss list is and was *only*  
concerned with the 10 criteria in the OSD.   I did NOT get a clear  
statement that *those* rules had changed. That may well have been  
your intent, but as far as I can tell it was *not* communicated to  
*this list* how *our* job had changed.   I knew *something* changed,  
but I didn't know what. When I asked, I appeared to get the  
*opposite* answer to what you're giving me now.  Hence, my confusion.

If there is an email in the archive where you lay out the  
implications of the new official policy for this list, I will happily  
call myself an idiot and shut up.  But if not, then I think the Board  
needs to accept *some* responsibility for leaving us to *infer* our  
role based on the public statements, rather than being explicit.

I'm not blaming you for this -- communication is *hard*, and it is  
easy to make incorrect assumptions that cause confusion.   However, I  
*am* asking the Board to take responsibility for the oversight -- and  
fix it! -- rather than just blaming *us* for not being smart enough  
to deduce the dramatic shift in what was expected of *this* list  
based on the new license-proliferation policy.

> I agree with what Eric says.  The perspective from the hot seat is
> completely different.  No matter what you do, people complain.  It's
> like Linus said in 1996: you have to just use your 'd' key.  In order
> to function in a position of leadership, you have to be willing to
> tolerate some unhappiness with your decisions.  Doesn't mean you
> *ignore* it, but you have to accept it.

I *completely* sympathize.  Apple, as you know, is famous for making  
controversial decisions. :-). I don't think anybody is disputing the  
*right* of the OSI Board to make the decisions it believes are  
necessary -- and if they are, they're wrong.

However, I believe that right carries with it certain  
responsibilities.  In particular, I believe OSI has an obligation to  
definitively answer the following questions that this list is  
implicitly asking:

a) Is it in fact official OSI Policy that it is the job of *license- 
discuss* to evaluate licenses against *all 13 clauses* -- including  
the three that are not in the OSD?  If so, where is that explicitly  
stated? If not so stated, will you please make that completely clear  
to the casual observer, so we know where we stand?  Or do you only  
want license-discuss members who can piece together their job  
description on their own?

I will submit to your right to decide as long as the OSI accepts it's  
responsibility to educate people about the implications of that  
decision.  Fair enough?

And perhaps more importantly:

b) If we think that policy is a bad idea, what should we do?  I feel  
like I've heard at least three different perspectives on that from  
board members:
	i) Give us feedback here in a civil and constructive manner, and we  
will give it due consideration
	ii) Please give us feedback in a *different* forum, as that is  
beyond the scope of this list
	iii) Shut and go away.  This decision is now final, and no longer  
open to question.

Which, if any, is the official, final OSI policy? If none of the  
above, then what is it?

I am not being facetious or rhetorical -- I myself have implemented  
all three options during my career, as circumstances warrant; none  
are inherently wrong (thought they may be unwise on occasion).  I  
just want to know where the OSI Board stands, so I can make an  
appropriate decision regarding my own involvement.

Call me stupid if you want, but I honestly don't know what the OSI's  
actual position is on this. And I would like to.

I look forward to clarification -- including whether you are speaking  
of your personal perspective, or officially on behalf of the entire  
OSI board.  And whether that statement is itself final, or open to  


-- Ernie P.

This is not a legal opinion. This is not Apple's opinion. This is my  

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