Request for approval: EUPL (European Union Public Licence)

Chuck Swiger chuck at
Mon Mar 17 20:10:43 UTC 2008

Hi, Rishab--

On Mar 16, 2008, at 4:34 PM, Rishab Ghosh wrote:
> i do want to make a more general comment, this time as a board  
> member. it is one thing to only approve licences in english, because  
> we do not have the capacities to study licences in other languages.  
> to reject a licence because it is also available in other languages,  
> however, is to say that open source should only be used and  
> distributed by people who understand (and whose lawyers understand  
> and work with) english. it is to say that the several countries, not  
> just in europe, who require their governments to issue legal  
> documents in national languages - a perfectly reasonable requirement  
> and a matter of law in several places - cannot develop or distribute  
> open source software.
> it is true that open source is largely anglophone in practice - the  
> research my group does shows this empirically - but i don't think we  
> want the OSI to cement this through its licence approval procedures.

It's obviously true that a non-English license can be compliant with  
the Open Source Definition, and it's also clearly true that people  
using non-English languages can and do develop and distribute Open  
Source software.  A lot of source code is written in English because  
all or almost all of the widely used computer languages and supporting  
libraries/frameworks/etc were written using English keywords.  This  
being said, the FSF/GNU i18n efforts resulting in gettext/iconv and  
translation teams providing localized strings have made very  
significant contributions towards making computer software accessible  
to people who speak a wide variety of languages.

There is no requirement from the OSI which says we only approve  
licenses in English, and I would not agree with the notion that we  
should reject non-English licenses by default.  However, it isn't  
clear whether the license-discuss/license-review groups realistically  
can review licenses in languages outside of English-- possibly French,  
German, & Spanish might be doable, but being able to read Le Monde  
with decent understanding doesn't mean I feel confident of my ability  
to parse a French license, for example.


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