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

Bruce Perens bruce at perens.com
Sun May 26 23:44:34 UTC 2019

On Sun, May 26, 2019 at 11:31 AM Tzeng, Nigel H. <Nigel.Tzeng at jhuapl.edu>

> That said, I don’t believe that stating my perception that you two
> dominate the list is ad-hom.

Perhaps not, but I am really at a loss regarding what to do with "you
dominate the group". I am an assertive person who has domain expertise.
Being assertive and having domain expertise should not be any sort of
offense. I may have some additional credibility due to history, but I am an
un-degreed communication arts major who has taken neither computer science
nor law courses and I am innumerate by the standards of this crowd. That I
got into Pixar, and became Debian project leader, and co-founded OSI, and
all of the other stuff is due to some combination of assertiveness,
technical competence, and being a decent communicator. It is not anything
anyone else here could not have done.

My issue and frustration has been the lack of acceptance that GOSS has its
> own needs and that special purpose licenses are a category where these
> needs can be safely met without necessarily setting precedence for other
> open source domains.

So, I'm frustrated over government Open Source too. I went out to NASA
Goddard and spoke with the researchers, and they are certainly not calling
for the odd licenses, they choose the most accepted ones when allowed to do
so. We *own *this government, and the work done is with our taxes. We
should have the maximal utility available from the code. I find it
difficult to understand how that justifies things like a government
attorney finding new ways to contractually restrict the public domain.
There is certainly no national security issue involved.

Corporations have lawyers who want things their way, too. They have for the
most part been more cooperative in coming to reasonable terms than the
government we own.

The call for de-listing existing licenses also makes me very uncomfortable
> as most likely the special purpose licenses are the ones that will get
> targeted.

This is all about OSI doing something they have so far resisted, which is
encouraging people to use some licenses and not others. We have no force
stronger than marking a license "legacy" at present.

The fact is, you can do essentially all Open Source with three licenses,
and two of them are very short. They are all compatible with each other,
they all allow a passive user to do what they want without having a lawyer,
and they are all protective of the developer community and have explicit
patent terms. Encouraging the community to use a single strategic licensing
plan would be better for everyone. But OSI has never seen fit to be that
strategic and actively guide the community. If anything is to make OSI
irrelevant, that will be it.

It is true that I am much more pro-developer vs pro-user in as much as I
> lean toward permissive licenses providing more developer freedom and less
> interested in further extending the bounds of copyleft which curtails
> developer freedom.

I have spared the group my entire lecture on why I stopped working on Open
Hardware licenses because they extend copyright in ways that would
ultimately harm us. I sympathize with you and Russell Ormond and any number
of other folks on this issue and will continue to lead upon it.


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