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

John Cowan cowan at
Wed Aug 1 11:55:18 UTC 2007

Luis Villa scripsit:

> 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?

It's what it needs to be.  The OSD defines what it means for software
to be Open Source.  OSD #1 and #3-#10 are of the form "Must be released
under a license with property X".  OSD #2 is more direct:  "Must be
available in source form".  This is not inconsistency, though it is lack
of parallelism.

This prevents the claim that some opaque block of binary bits is Open
Source because you have attached the BSD or similar permissive license
to it.

> 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.
> ===

That's not enough: the license might apply to source, but if you can't
get any source, the software isn't Open Source.

> "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:"

That could work, as it's equivalent to what we now have.  I don't
know if it would be less confusing or not.  (However, renumbering
the criteria would be a Bad Thing.)

He played King Lear as though           John Cowan <cowan at>
someone had played the ace.   
        --Eugene Field

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