Radical Suggestion WAS: License Proliferation Dissatisfaction

Andrew C. Oliver acoliver at buni.org
Mon Apr 23 02:20:00 UTC 2007

I think this categorization is helpful.  With that, if License 
proliferation is bad and the board wishes to stop it -- why not stop 
it?  Meaning *close* the license approval process and declare "Open 
Source means software licensed in its entirety under these  licenses" 
and declare the OSD to be a statement of values and that there are no 
other open source licenses.  Then state that NO licenses can be approved 
unless the board is petitioned and at its discretion reopens the license 
approval process.  Finally state that the board is not well disposed to 
do so unless there is a change in law or legal climate (such as say the 
GPL being proved invalid in court).  Make the statement that new 
revisions of existing licenses (such as the GPLv3) will still be 
considered provided they are "substantially similar" to their 
predecessors in terms and spirit. 

Russ Nelson wrote:
>      I can't get no satisfaction
>      I can't get no satisfaction
>      'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
>      I can't get no, I can't get no
> Like the Rolling Stones, we can't get no satisfaction with open source
> licenses.  We don't have enough, then we have too many, then we don't
> have enough.
> The large number of open source licenses has been a problem for a long
> time.  No need to explain the problem here.  We've been addressing the
> problem long before anybody else saw it as a problem, trying to
> encourage people to reuse existing licenses.  Most recently we
> established a committee to categorize the licenses, which I
> co-chaired.  The board has approved the committee's report
> (http://opensource.org/lpc) and endorses the categorization
> (http://opensource.org/licenses/category).
> We knew that this process was going to displease some parties.  When
> you set out to recommend some, the others will not be happy.  This is
> the case with Larry Rosen, whose licenses, the AFL and OSL, did not
> come up as top-ranked licenses.  This is unfortunate, because they are
> legally robust licenses.
> Larry claims that the license proliferation committee's process was
> political, not legal.  We agree!  We took policy issues into account
> as well as legal issues.  That is because open source licenses do not
> operate in a legal vacuum. They have practical implications and our
> intention was to provide practical advice. We did not consider it
> practical to recommend licences that are rarely used, however sound
> their legal drafting may be.
> Unlike Larry, the License Proliferation Committee was not free to
> focus only on "legal merit" as a criteria for categorizing open source
> licenses.  We respected the communities that have grown up around
> these licenses.  We looked at the number of people and projects using
> a license, and gave them credit for popularity in spite of the
> relative legal merit of the license.
> If he can get the numbers up on his license, then we will certainly
> consider moving his license(s)s to the "Strong Communities" category.
> But given that we expected the process to create unhappiness, the
> existance of Larry's unhappiness is not going to persuade us to
> change our mind about the results of the committee's deliberation.

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