[License-discuss] OSCAd - a tool for simplifying to use open source software compliantly

Reincke, Karsten k.reincke at telekom.de
Wed Aug 14 09:59:09 UTC 2013

Dear colleagues;

Recently, github has offered an open source license chooser for the project owners. It aims of simplifying the selection of an appropriate license. This tool was well appreciated -- not only by this OSI mailing list.

As a large company in Germany, we also acclaim the existence of such a generally visible tool, especially if it is approved by the community. But de facto, we have another need: we want to be briefed reliably, what we have to do for using a piece of open source software compliantly. We know that we cannot buy the right to use the OS software. We know that we have to do something actively for keeping the right to use the software. But it is simply too expensive for us to order lawyers to accompany each use of open source software. Nevertheless, we want to fulfill the license conditions and act in accordance to the spirit of the open source movement. Moreover, we know  that we are not the only company that is looking for such a tool which describes a standard way to fulfill the conditions of the open source license in our specific situation.

Unfortunately, we did not find such a tool. For closing this gap, we ourselves developed an Open Source License Compendium (OSLiC) which should deliver license specific and use case adequate to-do lists derived on the base of the answers to five questions. We published this OSLiC under a creative commons license [http://dtag-dbu.github.io/oslic/en/oslic/manifesto.html] and let all its latex sources being hosted on github [https://github.com/dtag-dbu/oslic].

In April 2013, we presented this version on the FSFE European Legal and Licensing Workshop in Amsterdam. Our work was very welcomed. But we got also the feedback that -- in opposite to our idea -- the intended readers like developers or project managers will probably not read / use our work: 250+x pages filled with lists are daunting and establish an inhibition threshold.

After some moments we used to vanquish our disappointment, we simply had to agree: even we ourselves would not have read this OSLiC if we had looked for a quick answer. Indeed, the OSLiC needed an interactive online version. Hence we implemented the OSCAd as an interactive sibling of the OSLiC: the Open Source Compliance Advisor. It is a simple application offering a html form of 5 questions as client part and a php backend which serves  the corresponding to-do lists.

We licensed this OSCAd under the AGPL and published all sources on github, too [https://github.com/dtag-dbu/oscad]. Additionally - as an intermediate solution -  we also set up an OSCAd instance [http://oscad.fodina.de/]. But of course, the license allows everyone to set up his own instance (to use), to improve our proposal (to modify) , and to distribute the results.
At the end, we, as company, would prefer to have an OSCAd which is verified, maintained and approved by the open source community itself. But as giving back for the many advantages we as company got from this community, we published our initial version. Feel free to comment on it, to use it, and to improve it ...

With best regards Karsten

Deutsche Telekom AG
Products & Innovation
Karsten Reincke, PMP(r)
Fach-Senior Manager 
Open Source Review Board - T&P/A&S/TM
T-Online-Allee 1
64295 Darmstadt
Tel.: +49 6151 680 - 8941
Fax.: +49 6151 680 - 2529
E-Mail k.reincke at telekom.de

Erleben, was verbindet.

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