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

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at rosenlaw.com
Wed Apr 4 22:25:24 UTC 2012

Karl Fogel wrote:
> (This may be more controversial than my last post -- we'll see.)

You bet! :-)

There is no way that OSI is qualified to "recommend releasing your software under one of the licenses from the first group if possible," as your draft now reads. You don't understand any of the clients' needs (nor do you actually represent a client), so how can you recommend anything except after disclaiming your very authority and ability to do so?

Are you intending to recommend those licenses to companies and projects already successfully using other licenses? 

I would have no objection to OSI exercising its educational role to disclose true statements about any of our OSI-approved licenses, or even to quote statements attributed to the authors of those licenses. You could certainly publish valid popularity statistics for these licenses, for example the Black Duck report, or identify which licenses have been deprecated by their authors. 

However, in line with our educational goal, some of us may also have "true" statements to make about some of those licenses to which some others of us might disagree. Be prepared, if you wish to have OSI comment upon specific licenses, to let the comments flow freely on your website. That may be a good thing, but it will certainly be controversial!

Only then, after reviewing that published truthful (or at least properly attributed) information, should a lawyer or other trusted counselor *recommend* a license to his or her client. 


Lawrence Rosen
Rosenlaw & Einschlag, a technology law firm (www.rosenlaw.com) 
3001 King Ranch Road, Ukiah, CA 95482
Cell: 707-478-8932

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Karl Fogel [mailto:kfogel at red-bean.com]
> Sent: Wednesday, April 04, 2012 11:41 AM
> To: license-discuss at opensource.org
> Subject: [License-discuss] Draft of new OSI licenses landing page;
> please review.
> (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:
>   http://opensource.org/licenses-draft
> 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!"
> or
>   "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".
> or
>   "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
> grouping.
> 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 :-).
> ­Karl
> [1] http://osrc.blackducksoftware.com/data/licenses/
> http://johnhaller.com/jh/useful_stuff/open_source_license_popularity/
>     http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2008/05/standing-against-
> license-proliferation.html
>     http://www.opensource.org/proliferation-report
>     ...and probably others whose tabs I already closed...
> _______________________________________________
> License-discuss mailing list
> License-discuss at opensource.org
> http://projects.opensource.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/license-discuss

More information about the License-discuss mailing list