[License-discuss] comprehensiveness (or not) of the OSI-approved list [was Re: [License-review] For Legacy Approval: LBNL BSD]

Richard Fontana rfontana at redhat.com
Mon May 20 01:04:30 UTC 2019

On Sun, May 19, 2019 at 1:30 AM Stephen Paul Weber
<singpolyma at singpolyma.net> wrote:
> ‎> Saying "OSI's list isn't very useful in contracts or scanners" does carry an implicit question that I've probably also said explicitly on occasion: if people don't, by and large, refer exactly to the OSI list in their documents and scanners, then what is it for?
> I frequently see thing very *like* what you describe, but less legally formal than a contract (such as submission policies to contests or app-store-like aggregators, etc) say "submissions must be under an OSI-approved license" and similar words. Occasionally in an effort to seem inclusive policies will say "OSI or FSF approved" or some such, but I've never been under the impression that this was because either list if deficient, but rather that the policy didn't want to "choose sides".

The latter, at least, may be a special case of what I'd consider a
more politically sophisticated use of the OSI list (and FSF list).
Both lists are valuable in many situations because they are maintained
by authorities that are (largely) respected and seen as neutral, in a
certain sense that is perhaps not true of, say, the Blue Oak Council,
or the Fedora project for that matter. The desire not to choose sides
is also seen in the use (declining, I think) of the "FOSS" and "FLOSS"

By the way, one of the reasons why Fedora historically did not rely on
the OSI list was that in Fedora's earlier years (mid-2000s) the OSI
was beginning to develop a reputation of being inappropriately
influenced by commercial stakeholders. I can't say whether this was
fair or not, but I vividly remember the viewpoint existing in that
time period. This is worth keeping in mind when considering some of
the recent criticism leveled at OSI for "rejecting" licenses put
forward by commercial entities or license stewards that primarily have
a business model motivation for the proposed license.


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