[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
Thu May 23 13:08:06 UTC 2019

On Wed, May 22, 2019 at 4:48 AM Henrik Ingo <henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi> wrote:

> - According to many imprecise metrics, 99% of all open source software
> in the world is covered by a list of about 20 licenses
> (https://web.archive.org/web/20190115063327/https://www.blackducksoftware.com/top-open-source-licenses)
> - OSI list is 82 licenses, plus 15 retired or superceded licenses. So
> it follows that this covers way more than 99% of open source software
> ever written.
> - Naturally there will be a lot more licenses that also do comply with
> the OSD. Especially if they are trivial variations of an approved
> license.
> - When we say that software is only open source if released with an
> OSI approved license, it really comes with this rounding error that
> 0,0..1% of software exists that is also open source. In practical
> terms this is small enough that it is not worth to mention separately,
> rather the "fundamenalist" statement is close enough.

But very often -- at least in the traditional Linux distribution
universe I spend a lot of time in -- non-OSI-approved legacy
(generally non-copyleft) licenses appear *within* packages that are
portrayed or at least popularly conceived as being under another
license, whether that's a copyleft or noncopyleft license.

I think the value of 'mass legacy approval' might be to address the
criticism I've seen of the OSI apparently claiming that non-approved
licenses are not open source or validly referred to as open source
when no one could credibly argue that they are not open source. It
would also address my concerns about Van's interpretation. But I'm not
sure whether the effort would be justified.


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