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

Tzeng, Nigel H. Nigel.Tzeng at jhuapl.edu
Wed May 22 19:36:03 UTC 2019

On 5/22/19, 10:06 AM, "License-discuss on behalf of Richard Fontana" <license-discuss-bounces at lists.opensource.org on behalf of rfontana at redhat.com> wrote:
>    What concerned me, and I remember Carlo noting this as well, was the
>    possibility that OSI, or l-r, would treat similar licenses differently
>    based on varying sentimental attitudes toward the license submitter.
>    Creative Commons, in those days perhaps even more than today, was
>    viewed very positively in the open source community. (I feel that
>    today there is more distance between the CC and open source
>    communities.) The MXM license was associated with MPEG and more
>    generally with the controversial topic of media codec patent
>    licensing. 

>    At least from today's perspective, we saw the problem play out a
>    couple of years later with the UPL submission. The hostile initial
>    reaction to UPL, on l-r and elsewhere, was obviously connected to
>    general community hostility towards Oracle, especially during that
>    period.
I would argue that Microsoft was even more disliked and MS-PL and MS-RL passed review with L-R consensus for approval despite the widespread distrust.

For the most part I assume that everyone on L-R is acting in good faith and are likely more aware of their own biases than most.  From what I remember of the Microsoft discussion, folks were going out of their way to not simply reject it out of hand.

UPL also passed and I seem to be quoting John a lot but here goes:

"And yet OSI approved two Microsoft licenses.  I had a little bit to do with that, and I defended myself on both Groklaw and Reddit by saying that a license-writer's motives are irrelevant: what counts is the work."

>    So you've motivated me to say this: I think OSI should dispense with
>    the whole idea that it should passively react to any supposed
>    consensus that emerges from license-review. OSI has a responsibility
>    to determine whether a license meets the OSD and provides software
>    freedom regardless of what direction the l-r discussion is going in.
>    One reason for this is the history of inconsistent attitudes on l-r
>    towards submitted licenses based apparently on views of the license
>    submitter.
I would counter that the 2012 list was much more diverse and engaged than the 2019 list and could be again under the right stewardship.  If the 2019 list lacks engagement I would say it's not because of the mailing list format but because of the perception that you and Bruce dominate the L-R list.  

We dance around this issue because nobody wants to get personal about things and understand that I do hold you and Bruce in the highest regard. But if we're doing honest root-cause analysis it must be at least examined.  You can also note that while I respect you guys that doesn't mean you two don't really piss me off from time to time.  But as I said, I assume everyone is acting in good faith and I generally don't look at their mailing address.  Most folks participating on L-R and L-D are open source proponents regardless of who they work for.

Changing OSI policy is up to the OSI board...but I think it would be a premature action to dispense with the role of L-R and I believe that historically the L-R list has been quite successful in overcoming submitter bias. 

ObDis: Speaking only for myself.

More information about the License-discuss mailing list