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

Richard Fontana rfontana at redhat.com
Tue Dec 20 19:05:44 UTC 2011

On Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 01:46:18PM -0500, Karl Fogel wrote:
> Richard Fontana <rfontana at redhat.com> writes:
> >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". 
> We're working on fixing those presentation problems; see
>   http://projects.opensource.org/redmine/issues/4

I'm actually interested in seeing something more than mere
'deprecation', which might be appropriate for certain cases of
superseded or voluntarily-deprecated-by-steward licenses. 

The OSI should have some sort of process for delisting
formerly-approved licenses for reasons of failing to actually meet the
Open Source Definition (or some future replacement of it). That is to
say, the OSI should be willing to admit that it made a mistake, much
as a court (while it might ordinarily apply the policy of stare
decisis) will in certain cases overrule its prior decisions. Clearly
for policy reasons such actions should be exceptional rather than
common, and perhaps should be limited to certain licenses that were
approved during a particular period in the OSI's existence (I would
guess 2000-2005?).

I think this is important because the existence, even in a
'deprecated' category, of licenses that (I would argue) were
mistakenly approved as 'open source' does some damage to the
legitimacy of the OSI and the OSD, and to open source itself. This is
particularly so because, as I understand it, the 'deprecated' category
is supposed to included licenses that do clearly meet community
standards for what's open source.

Given that the few licenses in question are (I think) obsolete, what's
the harm in saying "sorry, we were wrong, this license is not an open
source license after all, and here's why"?

- RF

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