[License-discuss] [FAQ] Is <some PHP program> Open Source?

Cinly Ooi cinly.ooi at gmail.com
Fri Jan 25 18:57:49 UTC 2013

Dear Chad,

> In case it helps in any way, I'd suggest:
> >
> > "You can see the PHP source code, so it's Open Source, right?"
> > "No. The code of applications written in languages like PHP or
> > JavaScript is visible, but that alone doesn't mean anything yet: it
> > always depends on the license under which the code is distributed.
> > Only if the code is licensed under an approved Open Source license,
> > it's Open Source. The licenses in the list maintained by OSI are
> > reviewed before approval, to make sure that everyone receiving the
> > code has the perpetual right to use, modify, share and reshare the
> > code freely, as well as other criteria as listed in the Open Source
> > Definition. It's those criteria that define Open Source, not access to
> > the source code alone.
> > If the code is not under one of the approved licenses, then please do
> > not call it Open Source."
> I missed this until now.
> "Only if the code is licensed under an approved Open Source license" is
> probably not the most ideal way to say this part of it.  Rather, say that
> it is open source only if "the code is available under a license that
> conforms to the Open Source Definition".  There are, in fact, open source
> licenses out there that are not OSI approved, and there is open source
> software that uses licenses that are not OSI approved.  The FAQ should
> strive for accuracy.
I might be splitting hair here: I think that the fact that in the quoted
answer the word "Open Source" is in title case is an attempt to
differentiate between OSI approved open source, vs general open source
(small cases).

The FAQ is hosted at OSI, so I think it is entitled to not consider non-OSI
approved license non open source.

I understand and agree with you that non-OSI approved open source license
exists. I think the wording do make it clear to a person reasonably fluent
in English to note that there is OSI-blessed Open Source on one hand, and
open source in general. You are right to say that we should strive for
accuracy. You are also right that the wording risk saying that non-OSI
approved licenses are not open source. However, I think it is preferable
than letting everyone thinks that just because someone write the word "open
source" in the license it is open source as the community knows it.

Best Regards,
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