Fwd: OSI approves CPAL at OSCON 2007

Michael Tiemann tiemann at opensource.org
Mon Jul 30 16:44:54 UTC 2007

I have no idea why this never made it to the reflector.  I'll try sending again.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michael Tiemann <tiemann at opensource.org>
Date: Jul 27, 2007 1:43 AM
Subject: OSI approves CPAL at OSCON 2007
To: license-discuss at opensource.org

I wish that Russ Nelson or I would have been the first to be able to
report the results of the board meetings held at OSCON this week.  The
schedule of our activities was posted on our wiki, but that schedule
did not necessarily tell the whole story of our busy time in Portland.
 Between the 6 hour work session Sunday, the 10+ hour board meeting
Monday, programming and presentations Tue-Thu, the hour-long BOF on
Tuesday, the 2+ hour BOF on Wednesday night, and 16+ hours of booth
duty (usually attended by at least 2 OSI board members, and which
helped the OSI raise approximately $4000 from approximately 200
conference attendees), there has been a lot to juggle.  Not to mention
the challenge of coordinating 8 different board members staying in 8
different hotels, working for 8 different companies, each of which are
demanding lots of attention when we're not attending OSI-related
meetings.  I now have time to write this email because OSCON 2007 is
over for me, and I have a few hours before I need to wake up and catch
an early morning flight to my next destination.

In Monday's board meeting the topic of whether to approve the CPAL was
considered.   We took the advice of the License Approval Chair, which
was to approve the CPAL.  We know that there was not 100% consensus
among those who subscribe to license-discuss, but we felt that there
was reasonable consensus that the safe harbor of the license was
sufficiently broad to meet the requirements of the OSD and therefore
approve the license.  Whereas there was significant and broad
consensus *against* the predecessor version, the response by many to
the current version was a stark contrast that we read as general
acceptance.  In the course of taking that recommendation, which I
agreed with, I observed what I considered to be a mismatch between the
text of the license and the intentions discussed, debated, and before
us to approve.

I suggested that it would be better to correct the error in the
license as long as such correction did not in any way affect the
substance of the discussion of that license.  If the error had in any
way violated the OSD, I would have sent the license back to the review
process, as I did when the SimPL license was (erroneously) submitted
with incorrect text.  But this error related to a potential for
confusion where none need exist, in a license whose terms were
otherwise recommended for approval.  I thought it better to make a
change and approve a license with less potential for confusion than to
approve the license and deal later with the confusion, or force yet
another delay on an already long-delayed process simply to recount
votes that had already been cast.  The board discussed this and

In the middle of all this, I was lobbied by a third party attending
OSCON to make additional changes that would have altered the substance
of the license, I said "no, we're not going to consider changing the
conditions of the bargain--we're only going to consider corrections to
the text to reflect the bargain that was discussed."  I further
explained that if the person's proposed change was not enough to
change consensus on license-discuss (to which he had posted his
suggestion to no avail), private lobbying wasn't going to get me to
suggest a private amendment to the licenseas a requirement for
approval.  The community had been consulted, and its stance on that
issue as well as the overall substance, which was not a unanimous
stance, was clear.

If the board were more efficient in conducting its business, perhaps
we would have time to check and re-check every submission while still
providing tolerable turn-around.  The board certainly values the
advice that the License Approval Committee provides to us--it is
advice we take very seriously and it is advice that helps us greatly
to define and communicate our statements about the licenses submitted
to us.  Even when a license is clearly OSD-compliant or clearly not
OSD-compliant, we are happy that there are "many eyes" reading along
with us, making the work both easier and more certain.  But it is an
advisory role, and ultimately it is up to the Board to discern what
and how much of that advice to take, not unlike a maintainer reading
comments from other reviewers before committing a patch in modified or
unmodified form.  And in this case, we took that advice (which was not
unanimous), accepted a change we considered to be an improvement in
clarity but not a change in substance, and approved the license.

I look forward to getting our minutes published and I look forward to
answering any other questions anybody on this list may have for me,
either in public email or privately.  This situation is not the
Board's preferred way to do things, but the Board does prefer to do
things it considers responsible compared to doing nothing because it
lacks any confidence whatsoever in its own ability to act responsibly.
 In this circumstance we felt it better to act than to wait (or, more
accurately, more harmful to wait than to act).

Some of you have already expressed your strong disagreement with our
decision, and you, too, are entitled to your opinion.  But know this:
the board does value your opinion, and we hope that you will continue
to provide it, both when you agree and when you disagree with our
policies, procedures, and decisions.  And the board takes very
seriously its responsibility for serving the communities of
developers, users, and other stakeholders who want to see more people
benefiting from more open source software, software that fulfills the
promise of the OSD.

The next OSI Board meeting is scheduled for August 11th, and it will
likely be at 11AM EDT (8AM PDT).  If you would like to attend (by
conference call), send me an email and I'll work out how to get you
dialed in.  If you'd like to address the board, I'll create time on
the schedule for that.


More information about the License-discuss mailing list