[License-discuss] objective criteria for license evaluation

Engel Nyst engel.nyst at gmail.com
Thu Dec 27 17:46:53 UTC 2012

Hello license-discuss,

As a software developer, interested to raise awareness on open
licensing, build a community of an Open Source project, and educate
myself and all involved people to understand and choose their open
licenses, I very much welcome this discussion. I admit I have been
looking for slightly more guidance on OSI pages, over the last couple
of years, than it is available currently. Please don't take that as
criticism, or not otherwise intended than simply a need for pointers.

If I may share a few thoughts from this user-side experience. I think
that OSI pages could greatly help if they contain hints or assistance
in particular for:

On 12/10/12, Lawrence Rosen <lrosen at rosenlaw.com> wrote:
> Regarding the classification of licenses, I think it is most important to
> categorize licenses in the same business-related terminology that relates
> to
> business models. So you need to identify which licenses ignore or have
> antiquated provisions regarding patents, and why that might matter; which
> licenses require reciprocity; whether that reciprocity includes use by
> third
> parties over a network or whether it is a "strong" or "weak" reciprocity;

I quote this for the reciprocity criterion first and foremost. I think
it's essential, including but not limited to, for developers looking
for a license, and for developers and community to understand open
licenses, their effects, their goals. For an educational purpose.

My own (poor) attempt at it has been the simplified and easy to
understand approach (IMHO):
permissive licenses (require no reciprocity; BSD, MIT, Apache) -> weak
copyleft (MPL; with LGPL more towards the next 'step') -> strong
copyleft (GPL) -> strong copyleft extended (AGPL).

Additionally, I think OSL is worth a place; again for informative or
educational purpose IMHO.

> which licenses are definitely incompatible with each other for derivative
> work purposes;

This is another important question, one needs to know or inform
themselves easily on definite incompatibilities. As expected,
personally I have addressed it by researching the licenses, license
stewards statements, and projects statements where needed. IMHO a
matrix or listings of at least some license incompatibilities would be
very useful.

Other criteria discussed in this thread could also be useful, for
sure. However, at least these above (including patents position, with
a simple explanation if it's possible, for the many unaware of
potential issues), are in my experience very much needed. They shape
the landscape of Open Source licenses and categorization by them would
greatly help to understand at least the basics of this landscape.

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