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

Henrik Ingo henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi
Tue Jun 4 07:58:08 UTC 2019

On Mon, Jun 3, 2019 at 11:58 PM Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> 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.

I can of course only speak for myself, but I don't think the above is
the right conclusion at all. Recent mailing list discussion seems to
have made the point that adhering to precedent is hard, when in most
cases the process does not produce a formal decision nor any explicit
justifications for that non-existent decision.

But that shouldn't be taken to say that the OSI isn't bound to
principles such as consistency, fairness and (some fuzzy version of)
predictability. If OSI would explicitly state that there is no attempt
to adhere to precedent set by previous debates, IMO it would quickly
lose legitimacy.

More generally, OSI only has legitimacy as long as its process
represents the opinion of the wider open source community. Saying that
decisions can be more or less arbitrary doesn't make sense.

henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi
+358-40-5697354        skype: henrik.ingo            irc: hingo

My LinkedIn profile: http://fi.linkedin.com/pub/henrik-ingo/3/232/8a7

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