[License-discuss] The three license discussion

Brian Behlendorf brian at behlendorf.com
Tue May 28 04:50:51 UTC 2019

[note: moving to license-discuss]

> On Mon, May 27, 2019 at 7:12 PM Bruce Perens via License-review <license-review at lists.opensource.org> wrote:
>       So, why don't we guide people to use this strategically coherent set? It would seem to me to be a step forward.

I definitely find it annoying to have to wrestle with N different minor
variations of those three and M different OSI-certified or not open source 
licenses when doing a license audit for a release.  And barely a release 
goes by when some useful utility someone included into the tree is 
non-obviously licensed with an OSI certified license that is still 
incompatible with an overall Apache license for the combined work, so some 
scrambling and sometimes re-authoring is required.

At the same time, I consider a key part of OSI's legitimacy has rested 
upon the fact that its mission, decisions, and actions are based on 
bedrock principles (the Open Source Definition, based on your own DFSG), 
not on personalities, books of dogma, or religious rites.  Those 
principles, as awkwardly and as incompletely phrased as any list of 
fundamental rights or concepts ever is (see US Constitution, Bill of 
Rights, Geneva Convention, etc) is intended to be interpreted and applied 
in real time, which means outcomes sometimes change.  Those principles 
could be changed too, but much less frequently and requiring near 
universal agreement.

I can't see how OSI could be principles-based AND declare there are only 3 
that matter or qualify.  But I would like to see OSI do more active 
education on what Open Source as a term means and how it works, and part 
of that could be strong encouragement to use the commonly used 
OSI-approved licenses, to avoid crayon licenses or those without clear 
patent terms, that sort of thing.  But if it were to actively denigrate 
other qualifying Open Source licenses then it throws doubt onto its 
principles-driven nature.

On Mon, 27 May 2019, John Cowan wrote:
> Because, whether you or I like it or not, that will be perceived as a 
> political act that favors the ASF and the FSF and disfavors the 
> open-source communities that are adverse to these organizations (even if 
> not specifically to their licenses).  So if you do that, those 
> communities will put it about that the OSI is no longer neutral among 
> the many people who do open source, but are RMS-lovers and Behlendorf 
> brown-neckers (it's already bad enough to be book-muckers and 
> 'puter-rubbers, since that be naught for true men).  And then they will 
> smite you hip and thigh in the press.

Help, I Googled "brown-neckers", and I don't think my locale is set to 
Olde English or whatever you're speaking, because all I get are Necker's 
Jewelers, lost dog notices, and obituaries.  Regardless, I hope folks 
don't make their licensing decisions based on their opinion of me!


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