[License-discuss] Greetings, Earthlings! Need quotes for article

Richard Fontana rfontana at redhat.com
Mon Dec 19 19:21:41 UTC 2011

On Mon, Dec 19, 2011 at 12:54:35PM -0500, Tom Callaway wrote:
> On 12/19/2011 12:27 PM, Robin 'Roblimo' Miller wrote:
> > If Fedora is tracking 300+ open source licenses, and the OSI has
> > approved ~70, what's up with that?
> Simply put, many licenses were never submitted for OSI approval, some
> because they pre-date the OSI, some out of ignorance, and some simply
> out of disinterest. Arguably, the most common FOSS licenses are known
> and approved of by the OSI.

That sums it up pretty well. The ~70-license OSI list will give anyone
new to open source a rather distorted view of FOSS licensing. For
example, and the part that bothers me the most, there is an
overrepresentation of mostly-obsolete licenses that I would describe
as monuments to the excesses of the open source bubble years, a few of
which even fail to meet any reasonable contemporary definition of
"open source". 

So I think the ~70-license OSI list says more about the OSI and its
history, and perhaps the early history of commercialization of open
source ("open source" used deliberately there), than it does about
FOSS per se. I believe this also provides a clue to why OSI's mailing
lists are less active than they were some years ago, which Robin also
asked about.

> Fedora has not written its own software license (nor are we the author
> of any of the licenses we track(1)), [...]
> 1: While Fedora is not, Red Hat is, at least in one case that I can
> think of, the abominable Liberation Fonts License. I cannot speak at all
> as to why the OSI has not reviewed/approved it, although, I suspect it
> will not be offered up at any time for consideration in the near future
> by Red Hat.

While there is very little in life that is certain, we can be
reasonably certain that Red Hat will never submit that particular
license for OSI review. Moreover, as you can see from this 2005
article (though it contains at least one inaccuracy),
Red Hat is not really the license steward of that license.

- RF

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