AFL 3.0

John Cowan cowan at
Thu Apr 5 15:49:26 UTC 2007

Lawrence Rosen scripsit:

> I know you served on the License Proliferation Committee, but perhaps
> (because hardly anybody's been listening for a while at OSI) you
> weren't fully aware of my public and private objections at the time
> to both the committee process and its result.

Probably not.

> Perhaps you allowed the other participants on the committee,
> a self-selected bunch of people some with their own corporate or
> business motivations, to convince you that open source licenses are
> all about "ecological niches" and "social purposes," or about who's
> "winning"--just so they could get their own licenses on the approved
> list.

That's definitely not the case; the language I used was my own.
In addition, I did my best to ensure (though not immediately --
I had to think the problem through) that the list was a classification,
not a stamp of approval or disapproval.  Someone will still need
to do that work, but it surely won't be the same people -- a committee
for deliberation is one thing, a committee for action quite another.

> Because other participants on the committee talked to me, I know that
> the decisions of the committee were political compromises just to
> get some kind of agreement to demonstrate that OSI could "solve the
> license proliferation problem" (whatever that meant!).

True.  "Nothing is more sacred to a secular age than a well-crafted
political compromise."

> I also know that there was no legal analysis of any of the licenses
> on the list to determine which had current value under the law and
> which are obsolete licenses from our distant past.

Also true, though I wouldn't call any license obsolete.  Some are less
useful going forward than others.

> You're talking pseudo-law, utterly irrelevant to the choice or
> understanding of FOSS licenses.

I'm not talking law *at all*.

> One of the guiding principles in recent years for OSI's approval
> of open source licenses has been the demonstration of uniqueness. I
> long ago demonstrated that on this list for the companion OSL and AFL
> 3.0 licenses.

Absolutely true from a legal point of view.

> Placing AFL 3.0 on a "redundant" list is just plain wrong.

It reflects realities beyond the legal, as I said in my last post.

Not to perambulate                 John Cowan <cowan at>
    the corridors        
during the hours of repose
    in the boots of ascension.       --Sign in Austrian ski-resort hotel

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