[License-review] Submission of OSET Public License for Approval

Gregory Miller gmiller at osetfoundation.org
Wed Sep 2 17:59:11 UTC 2015

Hello Richard-
May it please the reviewers, we characterize this as an intellectual
disagreement of jurisprudence.  To that end, we should hear from the
practicing lawyers on this matter who are most engaged in the nuances.  I
am a non-practicing lawyer with training and experience in technology IP
and licensing, but I leave my more academic legal view out of it.
Similarly, our General Counsel is very good at all things corporate;
excluding IP and licensing,  However, we are blessed with Heather Meeker
and her team who ARE the licensing experts.

So, I will let her lead on this point, but offer some context below from
the front lines of this to facilitate discussion.

I wish to note that (based on your remark) for what its worth, our General
Counsel informs us that CAVO is a 501(c)(4) or a 501(c)(6) (I apologize for
not having the exact IRS determination handy) and the OSET Foundation is a
501(C)(3).  The difference is we are a public charity, and in particular
charged with lessening a burden on government while providing a
demonstrative public benefit.  So, our focus on licensing is NOT as much
about development, as it is on distribution.

501c4 or c6s are trade associations and activist organizations with a very
valuable role in the advancement of public policy. Their tax exempt role
per IRS rules is to advocate; ours is by law, prohibited from such (save a
few nuances).  We are unclear why they have chosen to advocate so
vigorously on an issue of licensing, however, as noted at the outset, this
is an intellectual dispute of jurisprudence; engaging, but with some very
practical implications for us.

I hope you will appreciate that we would rather spend precious dollars
pursuing the build-out of our open source technology rather than on legal
research, advice, counsel, and services for licensing and other IP
matters.  However, we've been in the trenches, so to speak, in various
counties around the nation, and have dealt hand-to-hand with procurement
agents, contracts administrators, and  buyers of technology.

The fascinating aspect of this, and a great opportunity for the Foundation
(and your organization too) is EDUCATION.  There are over 3,140 counties in
the U.S. and over 10,079 election jurisdictions.  And the vast majority of
them have very little technology understanding and even less about the
concept of "open source."

Given that the OSET Foundation has DNA from Mozilla and several of us hail
from Netscape, we do understand open source, and at a deep level --
technically, legally, and commercially.  Similarly, given the deep lineage
and history OSI has going back to Eric Raymond, your organization too has
equally deep expertise.  We will have a big on-going job of education of
this sector of local government (which is very different from the federal
level or even state levels in many parts of the country). Therefore, we
look forward to a strong relationship with the OSI to help us in this
effort.  However....

For the moment, I can only assure you that our development of this license
was purely driven by the necessity to ensure these local jurisdictions can
accept open source legally by virtue of their -- in some ways -- archaic
regulatory schemas.  We made a conscious decision to remove a barrier to
adoption by creating a license that has a very focused purpose, rather than
reform ourselves into a c4 or c6 organization and attempt to mount an
enormous campaign to reform local procurement regulations across the
nation, which would cost millions and likely bear little fruit in a timely

However, in terms of facilitating development efforts and some distribution
settings, Heather cleverly crafted a licensing instrument that directly
addresses these issues for those who by regulatory fiat are compelled by
them, and for those who are not, they need not utilize our license, but
rather can use the GPL.  Heather should explain this.

Which returns me to the main thing here: this is an intellectual
disagreement of jurisprudence, and nothing else.  And I believe if we can
bring the licensing legal experts together through an intellectually honest
discussion, the result will be clarity of our intents and purposes,
demonstrating solid legal grounds on which we work; not because we want to,
but because it is the most practical and necessary step to ensure we remove
a technical legal barrier to adoption of open source in this specialized
government sector.

Respectfully I am,
Gregory Miller

On Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 9:45 AM, Richard Fontana <fontana at sharpeleven.org>

> Hi, a few notes related to this license submission:
> OSET Foundation and California Association of Voting Officials (CAVO)
> are both nonprofits in the open source elections technology
> space. CAVO is an OSI Affiliate. An OSI board member (Deb Bryant) is
> on the advisory board of OSET Foundation.
> I am not familiar with the relationship between CAVO and OSET
> Foundation but there has been some dispute between these organizations
> over whether an existing standard open source license is suitable for
> use in developing elections technology. CAVO has in particular
> recommended the use of GPLv3; see Larry Rosen's posting to
> license-discuss last year
> https://lists.opensource.org/pipermail/license-discuss/2014-November/001580.html
> Richard
*Gregory Miller*
Co-Executive Director & Chief Development Officer
*OSET* *Foundation* | *TrustTheVote* *Project*
www.OSETFoundation.org <http://www.osetfoundation.org/> |
*Twitter*: @TrustTheVote | @OSET
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