[License-discuss] notes on a systematic approach to "popular" licenses

Luis Villa luis at lu.is
Mon Jan 23 19:04:40 UTC 2017

On Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 1:56 PM Richard Fontana <fontana at sharpeleven.org>

On Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 04:07:53PM +0000, Luis Villa wrote:

> *Supplementing with high-quality, value-adding options*
> To encourage progress, while still avoiding proliferation, I'd suggest a
> second list of licenses that are good but not (yet?) popular.


I like the general idea, and I suppose it corresponds to what the OSI
was trying to do with the partial updating of the 2006 popular list. I
would rather have #3 be "must be determined to be well drafted and of high
quality" without giving specifics (despite the additional
subjectivity this would introduce).

I'd still suggest pushing for collaboratively drafted, which could include
"merely" incorporating substantial feedback from license-review, as in the
case of UPL, but ideally would rise to the GPL/MPL level of community

Perhaps where there has not been a non-OSI public discussion, "well drafted
and high quality" could implicitly or explicitly be part of the OSI
discussion and evaluation.

Looking at the whole history of
open source licensing, it is hard to make the case that involvement of
an attorney is a likely indicator of higher quality. :)

Touché ;)

> If a new license meets #1, but not #3 and #4, then OSI's formal policy
> should be to approve, but bury it in one of the other proliferation list
> groups. (Those groups are actually quite good, and should be fairly
> non-controversial — once you have a good policy for what gets in the more
> "favored" groups.) I don't think a new "deprecated" group is necessary -
> the proliferation categories are basically a good list of that already.

I actually think we should take a fresh look at these proliferation

Interesting! Any changes in particular? No objection to that in principle,
but they've always seemed decent to me.

A bigger problem is that ... OSI came to be a place where one would bring
licenses that are not being used yet -- which in some cases could mean
licenses that never end up being used.

Interesting, and obviously correct, observation. Getting out of that trap
is a bit of a catch-22, though: lots of the reason anyone cares about OSI
at all is that it is seen as a bit of a "seal of approval" for
unusual/unused licenses. If you say "no, we don't approve until used" then
there is very little incentive for anyone to bother to bring the license
later, once adoption has occurred. Perhaps that is not a problem, or
perhaps that is solved(lessened?) by making clear that there is "this
passes our lowest bars" v. "this is actually recommended".

Two relevant reads since I started this initial thread:

   - Redmonk
   interesting on a number of fronts but perhaps most interestingly noting
   that the weak copyleft family has somewhat dropped out of the middle
   between permissive/strong copyleft.
   - Top 10 open source licenses
   from WhiteSource. Top 5 are same as Black Duck, but BlackDuck has Perl at
   #6 and ISC at #7 (despite being deprecated by ISC!) and MS-PL doesn't make
   the top 10; WhiteSource doesn't have ISC or Perl and has MS-PL at #7.

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