Policy Questions (WAS: License Committee Report)

Eric S. Raymond esr at thyrsus.com
Mon Sep 12 19:09:36 UTC 2005

Ernest Prabhakar <prabhaka at apple.com>:
> On Sep 9, 2005, at 11:27 AM, Eric S. Raymond wrote:
> >You are correct to criticize us for not having been sufficiently explicit.
> >That was the Board's error, for which I apologize on behalf on the Board.
> >I am certain the other Board members will concur in this.
> Thank you. Apology accepted. :-)

Allow me to note that during the BOD meeting concall that concluded
just before I wrote this note, the Board did in fact concur.
Addressing this error is high on our priority list.
> >My own preference in this situation would be for the license-discuss
> >members who believe the criteria are broken to put together a statement
> >of position and recommendations for action, off-list, and then have
> >a representative (perhaps yourself) present it to the Board directly
> >on the Board list.

The Board as a whole has endorsed this path forward.
> The question is, what next?As seems increasingly clear, we do not  
> even *know* what the actual criteria are, and how they are supposed  
> to be implemented, so it is difficult to formulate a coherent critique.

During the concall, we made the following decisions and assigned the
following action items:

1. The three new criteria, as passed, will be (re)published on the license
approval process page.  They are passed policy decisions of the OSI
and are to be applied to all licenses submitted after they were passed
in March 2005.  (We have to take this line as a matter of procedural

The approval process page is at:


I believe Ken Coar is to be responsible for making the republication happen

2. If the changes and procedural tweaks described below do not resolve
all the issues with the new criteria, members of license-discuss are
invited to submit a statement of the problem(s) and proposed changes
to the Board.  The Board may then elect to alter or delete the criteria.

3. We decided that the readability criterion is to be applied on a 
per-license basis; that is, the goal is for each individual license 
to be sufficiently clearly written for a non-lawyer to understand.
(Russ told us this was the major controversy over the new criteria).

4. Towards this end, Mark Radcliffe is going to find us a set of Plain
English criteria we can attach to the readability requirement to define
a lower bar for readability and make the intention of the requirement 
clearer.  The Board will reserve the option of applying additional 
readability criteria.

5. As a related issue, we will develop a guideline aimed at getting authors
to minimize differences when they write a new license derivative of an
existing one.  This guideline will form part of a License Composition
HOWTO which will be a medium-term to-do item once the current 
anti-proliferation effort is wound up.

> Does that sound reasonable? If so, I would also request that the OSI  
> board appoint someone to act as official spokesperson for the board  
> during the discussion, so we know who's in charge.

That will be me.  The sense of the Board, along with its apology to 
license-discuss, was to approve my handling of this issue and to encourage
me to see the discussion through to completion on the Board's behalf.

Reciprocally, the Board is very pleased to have an interlocutor for
license-discuss's difficulties with the new criteria who combines 
candor with levelheadedness in the way you have done.  We encourage
other license-discuss members to cooperate with you in developing
license-discuss's critique and amendment proposals.
		<a href="http://www.catb.org/~esr/">Eric S. Raymond</a>

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