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

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu May 23 05:29:53 UTC 2019

Quoting John Cowan (cowan at ccil.org):

> Because OSD #2 specifically forbids it: software whose source is not
> available not Open Source by definition.

Sure, but... distinguo:  The _licence_ can be reasonable declared to be
open source.  The software (at that point, to all appearances) is not.

The point is that this is one of multiple showstoppers that can cause a
work to not be open source even though an open source licence has been
applied by a lawful stakeholder.  Patent encumbrances (e.g., 'RAND'
terms) are, in my view, another.  Thus my point.  The opting for a
qualifying licence is a necessary but not sufficient condition.  So is
availability of suitable and usable source code.  So is a lack of patent
encumbrances (e.g. on 'RAND' terms).

> Well, it's at least more debatable, because there is no clause like
> #2 that relates to the absence of patent rights.  There probably
> doesn't exist source code against which *some* patent claim
> can't be asserted, and whether it succeeds has more to do
> with who can afford to pay their lawyers longer.

Well, yes, indeed.  That's the queasy-making aspect:  IMO, it means that
you might reasonably think today that codebase X is legitimately open
source in your legal jurisdiction, but tomorrow someone pulls out a
submarine patent (in your jurisdiction) and issues invoices, and
suddenly codebase X has been rendered proprietary in your jurisdiction
even while it remains open source over the border.  A year later, a
judge invalidates the patent or a new patent owner issues a royalty-free
licence, and it's open source again.  And meanwhile, someone asks you 
Was X _really_ open source in your country during the long period when
the patent lurked but hadn't been disclosed?'  So, you answer,
'Technically it wasn't, except we didn't know that yet, so we described
X on the basis of what we knew.'

All of that is deeply unfortunate, and has the sole advantage of being,
as far I'm aware... er... reality.  And at least any given patent
eventually goes 'Poof', even if waiting for that reminds one of what
John Kenneth Galbraith said about the problem of 'the long term'.

> Latveria obviously doesn't have submarines, since Doomstadt
> is the eighth city of the Siebenburg (Saxon Transylvania).

Hah!  Yes, quite so.

> My confusion is rapidly waxing
> For XML Schema's too taxing:
> I'd use DTDs / If they had local trees --
> I think I best switch to RELAX NG.

You're about to get another entry in
http://linuxmafia.com/pub/humour/sigs-rickmoen.html, I'll have you know.

Cheers,              "I am a member of a civilization (IAAMOAC).  Step back
Rick Moen            from anger.  Study how awful our ancestors had it, yet
rick at linuxmafia.com  they struggled to get you here.  Repay them by appreciating
McQ! (4x80)          the civilization you inherited."           -- David Brin

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