[License-discuss] [Infrastructure] Machine readable source of OSI approved licenses?

Luis Villa luis at lu.is
Tue Feb 4 20:00:21 UTC 2014

On Tue, Jan 7, 2014 at 7:45 AM, Patrick Masson <masson at opensource.org>wrote:

>  Could this be a working group?

It seems to me still too unformed an idea, and with too few people
committed to actually working on it, to make it a WG. But I may be
misreading the level of committed involvement.


> On 12/19/2013 10:03 AM, Simon Phipps wrote:
> This sounds useful and I'd support the idea if a group were willing to
> make it happen. I suggest a staged implementation with the "Popular
> Licenses" being made available first and the others set up to return a
> placeholder message or error.
> On Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 2:07 AM, Joe Murray <joe.murray at jmaconsulting.biz>wrote:
>>  Would it be possible for OSI to make available a machine readable list
>> of the licenses approved by OSI? The format - a csv, xml or some other file
>> in a repository, or a REST or some other service from opensource.org -
>> is not as important as that the content be authoritative. There may be an
>> official specification for how software licenses should be made available,
>> but I am not aware of it. http://spdx.org/licenses/ provides a list of
>> licenses but it too is not designed for automated use (though it might be
>> scrapable). Ideally, it seems like the recognition of licenses by OSI
>> should produce some output that could be used by SPDX tools, but this
>> request is a bit simpler.
>>  Background:
>>  CiviCRM would like the set of licenses in this form in order to ensure
>> that any extensions that we list on civicrm.org and provide
>> auto-download services for via civicrm.org are using licenses approved
>> by OSI. However, the request seems of broader interest. Karl Fogel
>> suggested I pose it to these two lists.
>>  CiviCRM decided to try to up its game with respect to licensing of its
>> extensions partly as a result of someone coming across
>> http://www.zdnet.com/github-improves-open-source-licensing-polices-7000018213/.
>> While early on most civicrm.org listed extensions were hosted on
>> drupal.org and thus were guaranteed to have a GPL license, now most of
>> our new listings are for software on github. CiviCRM would also like to
>> 'assist' extension developers in actually including an accurate license
>> text file in their extension by checking it is present in the extension's
>> root directory and that its text matches what they are listing as the
>> license. I've been asked to liaise with OSI on the availability of such a
>> machine readable list of these licenses.
>>  Possible implementation strategy:
>>  If OSI decides it would like to do this, it may be technically as
>> simple as copying the licenses on opensource.org from one type of node
>> to another, then doing a bit of cleanup to support some requirements for
>> automated use. Looking at opensource.org, I see a content type was at
>> some point created specifically for licenses, though no content has been
>> posted of that type, and all the licenses are currently created as nodes
>> with content type=page.
>>  In terms of fields for automated use, it would be useful to move the
>> short title into its own field rather than having it in parentheses at the
>> end of the long title, and to make a plain text version of licenses
>> suitable for inclusion as a LICENSE.txt file in source code available in
>> addition to the current html formatted ones. If the approved licenses on
>> opensource.org were put into suitable content types, they could easily
>> be made available as a feed or exported periodically to a file that could
>> be stored in an authoritative repository.
>>  I am also trying to understand the proper way to handle headers in
>> license files, particularly for the small number of cases where they make a
>> difference, eg GPL-3.0 versus GPL-3.0+ (see
>> http://opensource.org/licenses/gpl-3.0.html#howto, and the differences
>> between the 'How to Apply These Terms to Your New Programs' sections of
>> http://spdx.org/licenses/GPL-3.0 and http://spdx.org/licenses/GPL-3.0+).
>> This seems like something we want to assist developers in getting right by
>> using reasonable defaults. One possibility we are mulling over is
>> optionally automating the creation of a LICENSE.txt file using metadata
>> about the Author, publication date, and license and suggesting that authors
>> use that file in their repo or request a manual review of their
>> LICENSE.txt. It would be convenient if suggested header text for licenses
>> was made available in machine readable form from OSI, including for the
>> differences between 'version x only' and 'version x or later' headers.
>>  I am willing to volunteer with doing some of the implementation work if
>> a decision is made to provide this new service.
>>  Joe Murray, PhD
>> President, JMA Consulting
>> joe.murray at jmaconsulting.biz
>> skype JosephPMurray twitter JoeMurray
>> 416.466.1281
>> _______________________________________________
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