[License-discuss] [License-review] Evolving the License Review process for OSI

Bruce Perens bruce at perens.com
Sat May 25 01:15:45 UTC 2019

The complaint which spurred this action was ad-hominem in nature, and this
continues to be the case. Let's please not try to hide that it's directed
squarely at me, except that we have just for the first time had Nigel
complain that Richard Fontana also dominated the mailing list in 2012.
Let's also be clear what the action is: I, and others, have today been
ejected from the license committee.

I believe the main offense I've committed is being a vigorously
participating authority on the matter of the OSD and Open Source licensing.
OSI has been eager to make use of this authority where it is convenient to
them, and currently has me representing their organization to the European
Union government and global industry.

OSI is increasingly being pressured to adopt licenses with *a common
anti-user theme. *As an individual, I believe it's important to push back
against such licenses, and that they should be disapproved on the basis of
the OSD and Software Freedom.  As an investor in a significant number of
Open Source companies, both individually and on behalf of my employer, I
also have a legitimate interest to represent in keeping the terms of Open
Source close to those which led to its success and are essential for its
continued success.

Discussion of the last license reviewed easily topped an arbitrary number
which, I am told, repels people from participation. There naturally will be
need for further discussion when the license submitter is incomplete in
their responses, ignores issues, or presents them in the light most
favorable to their client, which are all things we can expect. Thus, I
reject such arbitrary counts.

A board member, perhaps acting as an interim moderator, recently dinged me
for using the word "absurd". This is the only moderation communication I
have received this year. I have been an eager participant in implementing
codes of conduct on Open Source projects, and am not clear just what part
of the code *that *one falls under. Separately from codes, collegiality
obviously has value, and should be maintained, but I would not have though
that one non-collegial.

I am having trouble valuing the complaints of the so-far-non-participants
when their main distinguishing characteristic is that they *don't*
participate. If OSI is changing the policy, OSI will need to show that
people with diverse viewpoints actually participate to a greater extent
than they did before - not that discussion is globally reduced.



On Fri, May 24, 2019 at 7:51 AM Pamela Chestek <
pamela.chestek at opensource.org> wrote:

> *Summary*
> The directors of the board of the Open Source Initiative recognize the
> process for discussion and review of new licenses proposed for approval by
> the organization can use improvement and would benefit from evolution. In
> particular, it does not appear as though all points of view on open source
> licensing are represented in the discussion here. To address this situation
> we have created a Board Committee for license approval to evaluate
> responses on-list, appointed more moderators, and will devise a new
> moderation strategy.
> *Proposal*
> We anticipate that the effort to improve the quality of discussion on the
> license lists will be an iterative process. This email describes our first
> step, which is to approach the community and elicit feedback on this
> approach. We anticipate further steps including a review of tools, but
> we’re not yet at that stage.
> *Channels*
> License review vs. License discuss lists
> License-review at lists.opensource.org is the email address for submitting a
> license for which you seek OSI approval following the process at
> https://opensource.org/approval. The list is open to the public, so
> anyone can give their opinion about a license. The OSI License Committee
> considers the viewpoints expressed on the license-review list in making its
> license approval recommendation to the OSI Board. Since the purpose of the
> list is to inform the Committee and the Board, discussion of substantive
> issues off-list is not recommended. If a license submitter elects to
> respond to a substantive question submitted to them off-list, the submitter
> is encouraged to copy the license-review list also on their response after
> redacting the identity of the person sending the communication.
> License-discuss at lists.opensource.org is for general questions about open
> source licenses and for licenses in early stage development. The list is
> open to the public and anyone can give feedback. A moderator may decide
> that a license submitted to license-review isn’t sufficiently developed and
> will move it to license-discuss for additional work. We recommend that you
> carry out your license development process on a publicly viewable venue
> (preferably one where collaboration is also possible) and regularly seek
> views on license-discuss. Note that agreement on license-discuss does not
> guarantee agreement on license-review, as the audiences differ.
> *Moderation*
> The board recognizes that the license-review mailing list would benefit
> from further, more concerted moderation, both to ensure appropriate
> conversation and to maintain the pace of discussions. This more concerted
> process will evolve in the following steps:
>    - We will develop rules to encourage wider participation. We perceive
>    that some are discouraged from participating because of offensive tone,
>    frequency, or repetitiveness of messages. We will develop moderation
>    standards to address these hurdles.
>    - A moderator will also advance the conversation, by following up with
>    the license steward on unanswered questions and ensuring that all topics of
>    interest have been fully fleshed out.
>    - We will assure observance of the Code of Conduct for the mailing
>    lists, available at: https://opensource.org/codeofconduct/licensing.
> *Changes to the Website*
> We have also made a minor change to the language describing the license
> review process on https://opensource.org/approval. The page formerly said
> “Approve, if (a) there is sufficient consensus emerging from community
> discussion that approval is justified, and (b) the OSI determines that the
> license conforms to the Open Source Definition and guarantees software
> freedom." The page now says “Approve if, after taking into consideration
> community discussion, the OSI determines that the license conforms to the
> Open Source Definition and guarantees software freedom.”
> We have also clarified the timing of the review decision.
> *License Review Committee*
> The License Review Committee is an OSI Board committee made up of the
> following board members, as of May 2019:
> Pamela Chestek, chair, pamela.chestek at opensource.org
> Elana Hashman, elana.hashman at opensource.org
> Chris Lamb, chris.lamb at opensource.org
> Simon Phipps, webmink at opensource.org
> The License Review Committee will summarize and report the license-review
> discussions to the Board for the Board’s approval or disapproval of a
> proposed license. Members of the Committee also serve as moderators for the
> two mailing lists.
> *What We’re Asking*
> Let us know what you think of these changes.
> Pam
> --
> Pamela Chestek
> Chair, License Review Committee
> Open Source Initiative
> _______________________________________________
> License-review mailing list
> License-review at lists.opensource.org
> http://lists.opensource.org/mailman/listinfo/license-review_lists.opensource.org

Bruce Perens - Partner, OSS.Capital.
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