[License-review] License drafting quality and process [was Re: Comment on MOSL and similar licenses]

Josh Berkus josh at postgresql.org
Wed Jun 5 18:40:19 UTC 2013


> What if the "discussion" part of the process were mandatory  -- the
> first step would be a "need" validation on license-discuss by posting a
> synopsis that outlines the "real world" licensing problem being
> addressed and why other licenses are inadequate.   

> The discussion could then be focused on validating if this "need" is
> consistent with the vision of the OSI.   If so, then the participant
> could be *invited* to submit their license design and perhaps even
> official legally prepared license text to license-review.

I like this general idea, actually.  I think there would be significant
non-proliferation benefit to having a multi-stage approval process for
new licenses, an important part of which could be license-discuss.  If
nothing else, the time that this process takes would discourage "crayon"

Everyone: note that Clark is talking about discussion on
license-discuss, NOT here.

I'm not sure that his should be explained in terms of "needs" though,
which is not part of the OSI charter.  Rather, it should be explained in
terms of:

(1) does the license fit the OSD?
(2) is it sufficiently different from all existing licenses?

The desires of the requestor in creating the license would come out in
discussion of (2).

> I'm reluctant to shut down good
> ideas, just because the submitter doesn't have $10k spare cash to throw
> at an attorney.  In other words, asking for varnish isn't going to help
> when the wood is rotten.

I'll take a couple exceptions to that:

First, *at some point* the new license will need legal review by
*somebody*.  We should not be approving licenses which no lawyer has
ever taken a hard look at.  So either the legal review happens before
submission, or it happens afterwards.

Second, I take the tack that if someone *does* have the resources for
professional legal staff to handle licensing, we *have* to handle them
here because we can't ignore them.  They've demonstrated the resources,
organization and resolve that they might go ahead and deploy their
license whether or not we approve it, so we have a limited window of
time to talk them into modifying it or (better) using an existing
license instead.

Third, I'm not convinced that there are any new "good" ideas in OSS
licenses.  I take the extreme position that if we never approved another
license, it would be a good thing.

--Josh Berkus

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