[License-discuss] Draft of new OSI licenses landing page; please review.

Karl Fogel kfogel at red-bean.com
Wed Apr 4 18:40:40 UTC 2012

(This may be more controversial than my last post -- we'll see.)

For many people, the OSI web site is a first source of information about
open source licenses.  Historically, we haven't tried to steer newcomers
toward choosing the most popular / widely-recognized licenses, probably
because we thought it more important to remain neutral among all
OSI-approved licenses.

Times change, though.  These days we have a better sense of which
licenses are most used and where, and even more experience with the
problem of license proliferation.

Also, somewhat related to the above, our license pages are a bit hard to
navigate.  One click from the front page the user is faced with a choice
("alphabetical" vs "by category"), and neither choice quite answers the
questions newcomers are most likely to have -- although to be fair the
by-category page makes an effort to.

I think it's possible to steer newcomers toward a small set of
widely-used licenses without denigrating or hiding all the other
licenses, and to present all our licenses in a way that's more helpful
to newcomers while still being useful for experienced people who just
need a reference.

So I've drafted this page:


I'm not really seeking consensus about it -- I think it unlikely we'll
have consensus about something like this.  Ultimately, the Board will
have to decide.  But I am seeking feedback and corrections, e.g.,

  "The XYZ license is much more/less popular than you think!"


  "The FooBar license is not FSF-approved, so maybe it should be listed
   father down, since all other things being equal we don't want to push
   a non-FSF-approved license over approved ones".


  "There's a better way to present what you're trying to present; let me
   show you..."

...that sort of thing.

I used both external sources [1] and my own domain knowledge to come up
with the groupings on the page.  But I know many people here have a lot
of licensing experience, and welcome suggestions for better ordering or

What I'd like to do is to make this page be "/licenses" on the web site
-- that is, we'll have exactly one master licenses page, finally (no
more sync problems), and the old "alphabetical" and "by category" pages
will be obsoleted and replaced with forwarding pointers.

Finally, please note that this page does *not* reflect an official
position of the OSI, nor of anyone of the Board.  Luis Villa and I have
been talking about this problem a bit, but I basically created this page
out of whole cloth, and neither Luis nor anyone else should be held
responsible for it... yet :-).


[1] http://osrc.blackducksoftware.com/data/licenses/
    ...and probably others whose tabs I already closed...

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