License Committee Report for September 2005

Ben Tilly btilly at
Fri Sep 9 19:33:32 UTC 2005

On 9/8/05, Russell Nelson <nelson at> wrote:
> Ben Tilly writes:
>  > On 9/8/05, Eric S. Raymond <esr at> wrote:
>  > > Russell Nelson <nelson at>:
>  > [...]
>  > > >   o The board needs to revisit the three license criteria it added
>  > > >     some months ago.  I have tried to apply those criteria to the OVPL,
>  > > >     and not had any support.  The license-discuss membership has spoken
>  > > >     loudly and clearly that we should approve all licenses that comply
>  > > >     with the OSD.  Thus, we should withdraw those criteria and if we're
>  > > >     serious about them, set about modifying the Open Source Definition.
>  > >
>  > > The license-discuss membership doesn't make policy.  The Board does.
>  > >
>  > > Those criteria were approved after due deliberation by the Board for
>  > > good strategic reasons.  Anyone who is unwilling to apply them may
>  > > recuse him or herself from the process.
>  >
>  > Do you realize how strongly you've confirmed any qualms that people
>  > might have about the way that the OSI is run?
> Sorry, Ben, but you're being a silly Tilly here.  Eric is just
> pointing out that the current policy is the current policy and that
> it's published and people would, could, and should expect it to be
> applied.  To *not* follow the published policy would be a mistake.

While I'm often silly, I don't think that I'm being so in this case. 
Two points come to mind.

- First, as has been noted by multiple people, it is unclear what the
published policy is.  It is unreasonable to expect people to expect to
follow a policy that they don't know about.

- Second, I was not commenting on the position or decision.  I was
commenting on how the decision was communicated.  In particular I am
pointing out that anyone who has the opinion that the OSI board
operates in a vacuum and is uninterested in outside feedback would
have had that opinion (accurate or not) confirmed.

> Now, if the policy is wrong, that's another matter.

The way that that interaction looked was that you said, "I tried to do
what the board said I should do and everyone objected so strongly that
I think the board should revisit this policy" and Eric said, "Your job
is to do what the board says and I wish that everyone who disagrees
with the board will shut up."  That might not BE what the interaction
was.  That was merely how it LOOKED.

Unfortunately, appearances matter.

> The current difficulty is simply this:  I say that "readable" means
> "readable in context with other licenses; that is, if you make a
> derivative work from another license, you minimize the changes."  Alex
> Bligh says that "readable" means that the license *itself* should be
> readable even if it has to make changes with no legal import.
> Obviously, *I* think I'm right, but I think that both of our
> interpretations are reasonable.  Since there's ambiguity, we need to
> go back to the board to get it resolved.

That is extremely reasonable, but is not at all the impression that I
got from the interaction.


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