caGrid Open Source License For Legacy Approval

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at
Fri Feb 6 21:35:37 UTC 2009

Justin Permar wrote:
> New versions of our software typically have a ³new license² with minor
> changes (version, etc.).

That's generally a regrettable choice.  It imposes work on licensors,
licensees, and (if you want it to be an open source license) OSI.
License changes should only be made rarely for important reasons.  This
clearly necessitates taking great care when drafting each version

> One item that is unclear to me is if minor language
> variations make a license different enough to be ³new²

Generally, yes.

> (that is, does one license have to be taken verbatim to be re-used for a new organization,
> piece of software, etc. ?)

Major licenses avoid this problem.  The license text itself either
contains no reference to the licensing party or program (e.g. or such references are in
brackets so new values can be substituted in (e.g.

> ³For Legacy Approval
> By: License Steward or Interested Licensee
> Retroactive approval of historic/legacy licenses that have already been
> extensively used by an existing community, but have not previously been
> approved.²

A legacy license is no longer being developed, and often the software
that originally used it is also stable (or even abandoned).  Think of it
almost like a grand-father clause.  OSI wouldn't accept licenses newly
drafted like this, but these licenses are old, comply with OSD, and
important in some way.

If you have a thriving software program and community, legacy approval
is not what you want.  Perhaps the web page should be made more clearly.
 It doesn't really convey what legacy means.

> It also says ³Recommend which license proliferation category is
> appropriate². And the list of categories is on the following page:
> One of those
> categories is ³Licenses that are popular and widely used or with strong
> communities².

This choice is reasonable, though I guess nearly every submitter
believes they're in this category.

> there are hundreds of caGrid services that have already been deployed
> and dozens of applications that have been developed using caGrid APIs.

Hundreds is not that many.

> Should I re-submit this request under another category?

You should clarify it's not a request for legacy approval.  That means
it will be judged on a stricter standard, but as is, it probably won't
be judged at all.

> We could discuss the possibility of modifying the license in the future. I
> myself am not at all a licensing expert (I know about BSD and GPL and that¹s
> it!). Is there a current open source license very similar to the caGrid 1.2
> license that you recommend we take a look at?

It's really just a permissive license i.e. BSD or MIT, AFAICT.

Matt Flaschen

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