Groklaw's OSI item (was: When will CPAL actually be _used_?)

Rick Moen rick at
Wed Aug 22 18:55:24 UTC 2007

Quoting Ross Mayfield (ross.mayfield at

> Edited the wiki, wasn't hard.

Thank you for your prompt corrective action.

As a partially related matter, Groklaw's Pamela Jones has weighed in on
the MS-PL/MS-CL matter, responding to a recent Matt Asay CNet column,


    Why, Why, Why OSI?
    Tuesday, August 21 2007 @ 06:23 PM EDT
    ...[OSD] doesn't say OSI can't discriminate. It can if it wants to, as
    far as the OSD is concerned. So Microsoft's representatives and
    defenders need to stop twisting the definition's words.
     So the question becomes, should OSI discriminate? Will a farmer let a
     fox into the henhouse if the fox puts on a chicken suit?

My comment on PJ's analysis, just now posted to Groklaw:

Realities of Trademark Law
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, August 22 2007 @ 02:39 PM EDT

PJ wrote:

    Is there any reason for OSI to ignore reality factors, some of which
    Asay enumerated himself? 

Fair question. Yes, there is.

OSI operates a certification mark program (for the "OSI Certified" mark)
within the confines of trademark law. If it wishes to retain title to
that mark, which is regulated by the Lanham act and sundry bits of
administrative law -- which it certainly does wish, by the way -- it
needs to conduct the certification program in accordances with its
stated criteria, and not use it as a software industry cudgel.

A great many people misread the OSI approved licences list as a set of
good-practices endorsements. That's an error. It's nothing of the kind.
There are quite a number of really bad, or insignificant/redundant, or
just downright silly licences that are on that list because the OSI
Board (advised by members of the license-discuss mailing list) judged
them at one point to comply with the terms of the OSD, as it existed in
that day. (E.g., some licences on that list violate OSD#10,
technological neutrality, because they were approved before OSI realised
the need for adding OSD#10.) They were approved not because of being
good licences -- they weren't -- but rather simply because they complied
with the Open Source Definition.

Over time, it will probably become obvious that MS-PL and MS-CL are
merely yet more additions to the horde of insignificant/redundant
licences that, nonetheless, do pass OSD muster. They aren't innovative
or particularly useful, though they do have the minor excellence of
brevity. It will also probably become obvious that Socialtext's CPAL, to
name another recent example, is just plain bad -- but likewise passes
OSD muster. (I call it bad because it trivially impairs usage, while
simultaneously utterly failing in its probable goal of being a copyleft
licence within the ASP industry. It manages to be a simple permissive
licence within that deployment model, with a minor annoying advertising
clause, which plainly was not the drafters' intention.)

    If in fact OSI suspects that Microsoft's real purpose is to cause

...then, expose their harmdoing to public awareness, and employ the
remedy that free / open source software always uses, of saying "No
thanks; given those conditions of use, we'll either do without your
code, or write or commission replacements under terms more to our

There's really nothing new, here. However, if OSI were to surrender the
integrity of its certification program, that would be something new, and
particularly bad. Which is easily a sufficient reason for that not to

By the way, I've sent you, and MathFox, and the other site admins five
polite, periodic reminders over the last month that your domain
registration for is rapidly approaching the need for
renewal. If you for some reason don't want to send me the requested
"Yes, we know" acknowledgement via return e-mail, perhaps you wouldn't
mind doing it here? Thanks, and thank you for the awesome achievement
that is Groklaw.

(P.S.: October 3, by the way. As the saying goes, dates in calendar are
closer than they appear.)

Best Regards,
Rick Moen
rick at
(speaking only for himself; not an OSI spokesman, just a grunt longtime
participant on license-discuss) 

Regarding Mr Asay's referenced, question-begging CNet column "Microsoft
Capitulates to the OSI, Gets Horse-Whipped for Its Troubles", I've
commented elsewhere:

   Actually, as Matt Asay is well aware (as is Tina Gasperson of VA
   $WHATEVER's Web property, di Bona very explicitly said he
   was not proposing to hold Microsoft Corporation's certification
   request hostage to his (di Bona's) questions, but was merely seizing a
   very opportune occasion to ask them.

   Move along, folks. This is just another bit of Asay spin in
   contradiction to the facts that he cites in supposed support of them. 

More information about the License-discuss mailing list