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

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Jun 3 19:51:59 UTC 2019

Quoting McCoy Smith (mccoy.smith at intel.com):

> The problem with "grandfathering" such licenses is that they can be
> used as precedent for new license submitters as to why their non-OSD
> compliant licenses must also be approved.

Several recent posters to this thread (including now you) have decried
this problem of bad precedent in OSI Certified program decisions on
licences.  But this seems surprising, because it's long been a settled
point that OSI's licence-reviewing program has no precedential
tradition, and would not aspire to one -- that this is not a 'stare
decisis' sort of place.

Accordingly, it seems to me that worrying about the example set by
precedent is solving the wrong problem.  On the other hand, it may be
the case that OSI's materials could benefit from making clearer that l-r
and the committee are not bound to precent, that each reviewed licence 
is a fresh case garnering comments from the current participants and
then decided by the current committee.

Separately from that, even if OSI decided to start hewing to precedent,
in my opinion we've already seen submitters sometimes, with the best of
intentions, create a plainly OSD-violating licence that they assert
_must_ be OSI compliant because it was bodged together from (say) two
paragraphs from Apache License 2.0, a warranty disclaimer from MPL, and
some believed-innocuous glue wording.  So, it's not clear to me how
'following precedent' could be usefully definited for software licences
in the first place. 

On the other hand:

> I'd be interested in volunteering if there ever were a committee to
> review the current list to identify any listed licenses that do not
> (or might not) conform to the OSD.

Thank you for that, McCoy.  That seems like it would be useful (and
generous) work.

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