[License-discuss] Evolving the License Review process for OSI

Christopher Sean Morrison brlcad at mac.com
Mon Jun 3 17:53:57 UTC 2019

> On Jun 3, 2019, at 11:00 AM, Thorsten Glaser <tg at mirbsd.de> wrote:
> I don’t think the current OSD bad. It’s common to have interpretation
> aids without needing to completely change the rules.

Arguably that is, should be, or could be what https://opensource.org/osd-annotated <https://opensource.org/osd-annotated> is for already.

>> I would suggest that this process be followed up with a re-review of
>> licenses which were historically approved, but that don't fit within
>> community values.  It will always seem arbitrary if a new license is
>> rejected based on a problem that applies to an existing approved license.
> It will, but I feel strongly that disapproving licences that were
> once approved and where fine, according to understanding (OSD and
> community) back then (and where no bad things occurred during or
> to force the approval) will be problematic; many people rely on
> the OSI label, and changing the licence of an existing project is
> an exercise in futility. (That being said, some FSF licences might
> not survive this, either… I’m not a fan of those myself, but they
> have their place.) Many people operate under the assumption that
> a once-approved licence, approved under good faith, will not be
> disapproved later.

Implications of revocation should be considered carefully as I also believe it could easily do more harm than good.  That’s not to say that there isn't room to better categorize and/or tag licenses beyond the 9 currently at https://opensource.org/licenses/category <https://opensource.org/licenses/category>  

One minimal step might be to expand “Licenses that have been voluntarily retired” to “Voluntarily retired and / or not recommended for use licenses”, and having a process defined for actively expressing a desire that a particular OSS-approved license not be used.  These along with “Superseded licenses” should be the listed last on the page, probably with an explanation.

On that note, “Other/Miscellaneous licenses” and “Uncategorized Licenses (sic)” should be combined as currently presented.  It would also seem to me that the list would be better served with tags instead of top-level categories as there are not necessarily mutually exclusive properties.


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