[License-discuss] comprehensiveness (or not) of the OSI-approved list

Nicholas Matthew Neft Weinstock nweinsto at qti.qualcomm.com
Tue May 21 16:29:15 UTC 2019

Thanks for the explanation.  I would like to follow up on your first point with a comparison to UL.

UL acts in a completely neutral manner when determining whether to certify an electronic device.  Does it meet the code requirements, yes or no?  If all code requirements are met, it is certified.

OSI does not do so with regards to prospective licenses.  It considers other factors besides the published definition.

I’ll give two examples:

OSI factors in license proliferation.  If I submit a license that has the same three conditions as the ZLIB license, but in a different order and adding a disclaimer of warranty, it is unlikely to be approved.  Not because it fails any part of the Open Source Definition, but because it is too similar to ZLIB.  Would UL ever reject a lamp that satisfies all code requirements because the switch is too similar to another lamp’s switch?

OSI’s License Review committee was unable to reach consensus on approving CC0, but not because it failed any element of the OSD (https://opensource.org/faq#cc-zero).  Would UL ever reject a lamp that satisfies all code requirements because some members of the certification committee thinks that lamps should always point up and this one only points down?

There are clearly meaningful reasons to for the License Review committee to consider additional factors besides the published criteria of the Open Source Definition.  However, as long as they do, the OSI Approved Licenses list is not simply a certification that a license complies with the OSD.  It is certification that a license complies with the OSD and any other (unpublished) factors the License Review Committee thinks is relevant (at that time).

It would be great for OSI to provide both services, but I don’t think the two should be equated.

-Nicholas Weinstock

From: License-discuss <license-discuss-bounces at lists.opensource.org> On Behalf Of VanL
Sent: Monday, May 20, 2019 1:53 PM
To: license-discuss at lists.opensource.org
Subject: Re: [License-discuss] comprehensiveness (or not) of the OSI-approved list

Hi Nicholas,

Let me start by explaining my mental model: "Open Source" is basically like the "UL" mark for electronics. It is a certification made by a third party (here the OSI) that a certain product (the software) conforms to certain standards in terms of what is included in it (only software under particular licenses). It does not matter whether something is potentially approvable under a UL mark or under the OSD. It is a binary: either something is, or is not, and the OSI is the body that gets to make that decision.
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