inconsistency in OSD- software (#2) v. licenses/rights (every other plank)

Luis Villa luis at
Wed Aug 1 03:58:31 UTC 2007

history/context/clarification question (and last email of the night, I swear):

In doing a quick comparison of the v3 and the OSD, I finally noticed
that section 2 of the OSD is inconsistent with the rest of the
document, since it speaks of qualities of specific software, rather
than rights or qualities of a generic license. This makes it a little
nonsensical to ask the question (as
does) 'does the license under consideration satisfy plank 2 of the

I know this language comes from OSD's roots in the DFSG. Is there any
particular reason it hasn't been removed (since presumably anyone
writing such a license intends to release source code) or updated to
make it consistent?

If the board were to consider clarifying the language, I might suggest
something like:

2. Source Code

The license must apply to the preferred form in which a programmer
would modify the program (typically referred to as source code), and
must allow distribution in this form as well as compiled form.

I dropped "Where some form of a product is not distributed with source
code, there must be a well-publicized means of obtaining the source
code..." since translating those clauses into a license requirement
would obviously preclude the BSD and other such licenses.

To replace that language, I might rewrite the Introduction to look
something like:

"Open source doesn't just mean access to source code. To be Open
Source Software, the source code for the software must be distributed
along with the software or otherwise easily obtainable, and it must be
available in the preferred form for modification, without obfuscation
or pre-processing. The source must also be licensed under an Open
Source Initiative Approved license.

To be approved, a license must comply with the following criteria:"

Obviously, I realize the OSD has worked fine for a long time despite
this inconsistency, so this isn't a huge deal. But since there seems
to be some emphasis right now on process, I thought this might be a
good time for a suggestion intended to clarify and improve the


More information about the License-discuss mailing list