[License-discuss] Rejected license list [was Re: TrueCrypt license (not OSI-approved; seeking history, context).]

Richard Fontana fontana at sharpeleven.org
Tue Oct 15 23:15:09 UTC 2013

On Tue, 15 Oct 2013 16:42:33 -0400
John Cowan <cowan at mercury.ccil.org> wrote:

> Richard Fontana scripsit:
> > But if a license *has* been rejected (in some official way -- does
> > this actually apply to any submitted license, historically?) 
> It doesn't, and it wouldn't make sense considering the OSI process.
> As a certifying organization, the OSI is reactive.  We wait for
> someone to submit a license, and if we believe it meets the OSD and
> other criteria, we certify it.  If not, we send it back to the
> submitter with the reasons we can't certify it.
> But the ball is always in the submitter's court: they are free to try
> again with a new version of the license at any time.  It would not
> make sense to put every non-accepted version on a "hall of shame"
> list, particularly when it may have been quickly superseded by an
> acceptable draft.
> This is completely different from the FSF process.  The FSF takes
> existing published licenses and rates them for conformity with the
> Four Freedoms (and also for GPL compatibility).  They do this without
> waiting for submissions.  Consequently, it makes sense for them to
> list both conforming and non-conforming licenses. 

The only practical distinction I can see is that usually the FSF is
looking at licenses already in use and often the OSI is asked to review
a license not yet in use. But where, as sometimes happens, the OSI is
asked to review a license already in use, and a formal decision not to
certify occurs at the highest level of the organization, I don't see
that as being different in nature from the FSF deciding that some
in-use license is nonconformant to the Free Software Definition.

In any case, I think there is great value in explaining why a license
is not considered appropriate for certification (for both in-use
licenses and merely-proposed licenses). 

- RF

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