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

Luis Villa luis at tieguy.org
Mon Nov 12 00:01:03 UTC 2012

Hi, all-

This is a deliberately small, unambitious proposal to simplify and
improve how the OSI-approved licenses are presented on the OSI

The goal of the proposal is to make http://opensource.org/licenses/
more useful for newcomers who are trying to learn about open source
licensing and our current approved licenses.

This email reopens the discussion of a few months ago that got
derailed by (1) my vacation and (2) a massively off-topic discussion.
It incorporates the on-topic feedback from the last thread- many
thanks to Chad Perrin, John Cowan, and McCoy Smith for their three
on-topic emails.

What This Is Not

This proposal does not address the problem of changing and updating
the licensing categories. **Email about that problem is off-topic for
this thread. If you must discuss it, please change the thread title.**

Those questions are on the table, but they will inevitably involve
months of careful discussion and planning. They will not be allowed to
block this quicker, smaller discussion.

The Proposal

1. REORGANIZE: 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 a single page: "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. REVISE /LICENSES/ : The "Open Source Licensing" page (replacing the
current http://opensource.org/licenses/)  would say (hopefully all
changes self-explanatory):

Open source licenses are licenses that comply with the Open Source
Definition[link] - in essence, they allow software to be used,
modified, and redistributed without restriction. To be approved by the
Open Source Initiative, a license must be go through the Open Source
Initiative's license review process[link].

The following OSI-approved licenses are popular, widely used, or have
strong communities:

        [Insert the current list of popular/widely used/strong
community licenses]

Many other licenses are also OSI-approved. Complete lists are available:

        sorted by name (alphabetical)
        sorted by category

For more information about open source licenses and in particular
about the Open Source Initiative's approval process, see:

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


* 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.

Again, I welcome on-topic feedback for the proposal, which I will
otherwise probably implement in the next week or two.


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