[License-discuss] history of l-r/org relationship [was Re: [License-review] For Approval: The Cryptographic Autonomy License]

Luis Villa luis at lu.is
Mon May 13 19:30:26 UTC 2019

[Trying to keep non-CAL stuff off license-review, though that feels like a
futile battle]

On Mon, May 13, 2019 at 10:40 AM Richard Fontana <rfontana at redhat.com>

> On Mon, May 13, 2019 at 12:34 PM Henrik Ingo <henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi>
> wrote:
> > Previously on license-review the License Zero license proposed a
> > requirement to publish anything *created with* the licensed software.
> > (https://licensezero.com/licenses/reciprocal §5) I didn't read all of
> > that thread, but I understand this was at least one reason it was
> > rejected.
> License Zero was not actually rejected. I know there is a
> currently-popular viewpoint that hostile reception to a license on
> license-review, resulting ultimately in withdrawal from the process,
> is tantamount to OSI rejecting a license, but I don't agree.

Point of history: during my term on the board as chair of the license
committee, starting 1/3rd of the lifetime of the org ago, it was understood
that the "committee" I chaired *was* license-review, though as with any
board committee, the board of course retained final decision-making power.
This relationship was serious enough that at one point we briefly discussed
how we could formalize the mailing list as a board committee, consistent
with our charter. As I recall, the conclusion was that, because of the
changing membership of this list, this was impractical, but that as a
practical matter it was still considered to be a board committee whose
actions should be reported to the board.

Past that, license-review has been a formal documented part of the review
process 2007
(which I believe is around when it was created as a separate list?), and
license-discuss since at least 2002
(when the documentation said "community review is an important part of the
approval process"). Yes, the board has always had final formal approval
(you can see that in both the 2002 and 2007 docs), but it's also been
widely understood that this was typically a formality.

Finally, the tight relationship between list and board is why I felt, when
I was the board's license chair, I had an obligation to revise the list CoC
in 2013, moderate the list actively, and repeatedly discuss conformance to
process on-list. The board formally approved the CoC and process revisions
I put in place at that time. If the list had been something at arms-length,
I would not have bothered, but you know what they say about your website

As the docs and our practice suggest, the board has always formally been
the final decision maker, never the list. But I'm not sure that the
distinction matters at all - for submitters, and for the broader open
source community, being screened and rejected by a list that is (1) a
documented, formal part of the process (2) hosted on opensource.org and (3)
has a lot of present and former board members on it is, well, "tantamount
to OSI rejecting a license".

Perhaps there is some important nuance there I'm missing, though.

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