[License-discuss] proposal to revise and slightly reorganize the OSI licensing pages

Luis Villa luis at tieguy.org
Sat Jun 2 19:35:06 UTC 2012

Hi, all-

Following up on Karl's email of a few months ago, this is a
deliberately low-key proposal from me and other board members to
simplify and improve how the OSI-approved licenses are presented on
the OSI website. As it currently stands, we don't have a page we can
point a newcomer to to learn about what an open source license is, or
what the most common licenses are. We'd like to solve that, at least
in part, by making the current http://opensource.org/licenses/ more
useful by highlighting the most common licenses and by providing a bit
more context about what it means to be an open source license.

Despite coming from me and other board members, the text and layout
below are just a proposal, and are of course open to suggestions,
improvements, and discussion.

What This Is Not

Karl's original proposal included suggestions of how to change and
update which licenses belong in which categories. This email and
proposed web site changes are definitely not addressing that issue. I
feel (and I'm pretty sure others on the board feel) that those
questions should be addressed, but because those are complex issues
that will inevitably involve months of careful discussion and
planning, and because we all agree that the current website layout is
unsatisfactory, we'd like to not block this quicker, smaller

The Proposal

1. Reorganize the left-side navigation. What is currently "Open Source
Licenses," with sub-points "Licenses by Category", "Licenses by Name",
"License Review Process," and "License Proliferation," would simply
become "Open Source Licensing" (content of that page discussed below).
"License Review Process" and "License Proliferation" would be moved to
bullets under "The Open Source Definition," because those pages are
primarily about OSI's process and standards rather than about specific
licenses or about open source licenses more generally.

By slightly hiding the "by category" and "by names" pages, we'd be
funneling people (particularly newcomers) to a slightly more
informative page (and one that can be improved over time), while not
losing the master lists altogether for the times when those are

2. The "Open Source Licensing" page (replacing
http://opensource.org/licenses/)  would be fleshed out to say
(hopefully all changes self-explanatory):

    Open Source licenses are licenses that comply with the Open Source
Definition and have been approved through the Open Source Initiative's
license review process.

    The following Open Source licenses are popular, widely used, or
have strong communities:

        Apache License, 2.0 (Apache-2.0)
        BSD 3-Clause "New" or "Revised" license (BSD-3-Clause)
        BSD 3-Clause "Simplified" or "FreeBSD" license (BSD-2-Clause)
        GNU General Public License (GPL)
        GNU Library or "Lesser" General Public License (LGPL)
        MIT license (MIT)
        Mozilla Public License 2.0 (MPL-2.0)
        Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL-1.0)
        Eclipse Public License (EPL-1.0)

    A complete list of all Open Source Initiative-approved licenses,
including those above, is available:

        sorted by name (alphabetical)
        sorted by category

    For more information about Open Source licenses and in particular
about the Open Source Initiative's license review process, see:

        The Open Source Definition (annotated version)
        The OSI License Review Process
        Information on License Proliferation and the 2006 License
Proliferation Report


* We'll of course clean up any dangling links caused by changed URLs
and set up proper redirects before changing any URLs. (Not entirely
clear it makes sense to change /licenses/ to /licensing/, which would
be the primary URL change based on the previous suggestions).

* In the longer term, once Drupal is upgraded, it will likely make
sense to generate http://opensource.org/licenses/alphabetical and
http://opensource.org/licenses/category programatically, rather than
through the current manual listing, which is of course error-prone.
(Some people have suggested doing away with the alphabetical list
altogether, which I personally would be fine with.) That may cause
some more tweaks in URLs and layouts, but we'll cross that bridge when
we come to it.

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