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

John Cowan cowan at ccil.org
Thu May 23 12:05:42 UTC 2019

On Thu, May 23, 2019 at 5:14 AM Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:

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.

Even if this is true (and I don't yet concede it), the lack of a patent
release from the software author(s) isn't the biggest threat.
Anyone who releases code under an open-source license
probably isn't going to turn around and sue you for patent
infringement, though it's certainly possible.  The deep threat
comes from third parties, which is a risk that neither ther the
licensor nor the licensee can reasonably mitigate.

> All of that is deeply unfortunate, and has the sole advantage of being,
> as far I'm aware... er... reality.

Okay, but if we accept that patent infringement makes a piece of
software not open source, we are in this position:  if someone asks
"Is program X open source?" our only replies are "Definitely not"
and "Maybe."  A classification like that isn't very useful.  It's more
meaningful IMO to say that such a program *is* open source and
accept that not all open-source software is usable everywhere.

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

Feel free to raid my full list at <http://vrici.lojban.org/~cowan/signatures
Reading them all at once, however, can cause humor fatigue.

(BTW, I've decided to start omitting the "-- " line because so many
mail clients, notably Gmail, suppress it and everything after it.)

John Cowan          http://vrici.lojban.org/~cowan        cowan at ccil.org
Unless it was by accident that I had offended someone, I never apologized.
        --Quentin Crisp
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