[License-review] License Committee Report

Richard Fontana fontana at sharpeleven.org
Tue Sep 8 05:44:36 UTC 2015

On Sun, Sep 06, 2015 at 05:39:29PM -0400, Richard Fontana wrote:
> This is my report for licenses currently submitted to OSI, though it
> doesn't address certain old submissions that were noted in
> "Outstanding license submissions" other than NOSA 2.0.[1]

Adding one of those old certain old submissions at the submitter's

eCos License version 2.0

Submission for legacy approval: https://lists.opensource.org/pipermail/license-review/2014-August/000853.html

Comments: This is a permissive exception to GPLv2-or-later, a variant
on a well-known historical category of such exceptions, and as such is
clearly OSD-conformant. The sole issue is the policy question of
whether permissive exceptions to OSI-approved licenses should
themselves be approved. The license submitter pointed out the approval
of the wxWindows Library license as precedent and also pointed to

The license submitter argued that confining this license to the
'legacy approval' category would address any concerns about
proliferation. The license submitter put forward policy arguments for
approving GPL exceptions (funding bodies and users would have
assurance that projects using such licenses were open source; approval
of licenses in the GPL exception category would generally not involve
much intellectual effort). Thorsten Glaser pointed out that it could
be beneficial to have a corpus of approved exceptions.

Luis Villa favored "a simple statement along the lines that 'granting
additional permissions to approved licenses is always OK' and, giving
eCos and WxWindows as useful examples", which had always been de facto
policy. The problem with this, as the license submitter pointed out,
is that "the onus is on the licensee (rather than the OSI) to
determine whether a exception clause is strictly permissive-only and
hence whether the license can be considered to be OSI-approved."

As I recall there was some OSI board discussion of the general issue
raised by the eCos license, but no decision.

I agreed with Luis's suggestion when he made it. Reviewing this again,
I am now more sympathetic to the license submitter.

Recommendation: Legacy approval. Regardless of board's decision,
Luis's suggestion should also be adopted. 

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