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

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Sat Jun 8 10:18:31 UTC 2013

Quoting Patrice-Emmanuel Schmitz (pe.schmitz at googlemail.com):

> This first step would put an end to the current frustration of
> refusing any new license.

On what basis are you claiming the OSI Board has thus refused?  Please
cite the specifics.  (Please note that license-review regulars posting
critical comments or no comments does not in any way constitute OSI
'refusing' a licence.)

Personal off-the-cuff observation follows:

Offhand I cannot recall a single licence submission this year so far
that bothered to address the basic published approval process.  (There
were probably a couple of exceptions -- ones that were not interesting
or distinctive, such that I felt no personal reason to comment.)

Again, speaking for myself, not necesarily for anyone else:  My sense is
that the general run of licence submissions in recent years could be
politely summarised as, at best, giving cursory lip-service only to
the OSI Board's (and licence-review's) guidance and feedback, licences
that were hurled at the approval process despite being horribly flawed,
obviously proprietary, duplicative, or some combination of those three,
and then defended theatrically by their proponents -- sometimes with a
ludicrous, quasi-religious zeal -- by someone treating the approval
process as merely an irritating barrier to be burst through in the name
of Holy Progress[tm].

[Patrice-Emmanuel suggests, in part:]

> - a formal declaration that the new proposed license is not in
> contradiction with the above OSD,

Pourquoi?  To what benefit?  On the evidence, many submitters do believe
that but are often very mistaken, and/or simply are failing to take the
process seriously.  Perhaps they're used to blustering their way past
standards documets; I really don't know for sure -- but they sure aren't
bothering to actually _read_ the OSD, whiich is surely not at all
difficult to read with fair context.

I suspect in some cases the submitter's working assumption is 'Sure,
this licence I'm trying to bludgeon my way through on behalf of my
{employer|project} is, frankly, purposeless rubbish that will be
disregarded by almost everybody within minutes, but I'm sure OSI has
approved worse things, so I'll pound the virtual table, accuse OSI of
irrelevancy, and threaten to go to imaginary and carefully unidentified
third-party licence approval consortia if OSI doesn't rubber-stamp mine,

I've read the rest of your list of alternative 'ideas' that you want OSI
to consider, but would ask, first:  What problem are you actually trying
to solve?  And who other than you acknowledges that said problem exists
and is what OSI wishes to address?

If that problem is 'OSI doesn't approve enough licences', I think, like
Josh Berkus, that you're simply very fundamentally wrong in that

If you think otherwise, please name one licence submitted to OSI's licence-review process (either competently _or_ not) in the last
year that you think has merit (is novel) _and_ is OSD-compliant.  Two 
examples would be nice.

Maybe OSI's Board (for whom I do not speak) will even consider and
approve them, _if_ you can tell us which ones and explain why.

Can you?  You say 'refusing any new license'.  Please tell us about the
ones that have been unjustly refused (let alone simply not commented on,
on the mailing list).

Cheers,                                  Actually, time flies hate a banana. 
Rick Moen                                                    -- Micah Joel
rick at linuxmafia.com
McQ! (4x80)  

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