[License-review] Approval: Server Side Public License, Version 1 (SSPL v1)

Bradley M. Kuhn bkuhn at ebb.org
Thu Oct 18 04:32:46 UTC 2018

Eric Shultz has asked Eliot some good questions (and I'm not surprised, as
Eric one of the key community members who has been exploring the future of
web services copyleft).  However, I am still not convinced that the OSI's
license-review process is the place where...

Eliot Horowitz wrote a little while ago:
> We [MongoDB] think it is time for an extension of copyleft.

... the FOSS community as a whole should decide how, when, and where strong
copyleft should be expanded, and, who should be the license steward for that
expansion.  Strong copyleft was invented in 1985 and last expanded in 2002.
It may indeed be useful to begin discussion soon if expansion is possible.
There has already been discussion in copyleft-next about that topic, so
that is one forum (among many) where the discussion could rekindle.

The OSI license-review has a fundamental and important but ultimately narrow
job: to evaluate already-publicly-vetted licenses against the OSD and decide
if those licenses meet the OSD -- and that process is mandated to occur in a
period of about 60 days from submission to OSI Board decision.  It is just
unreasonable to ask the OSI to moderate the complex community discussion
necessary for considering expansion of copyleft.  If nothing else, it's
unfair to drag the good people who volunteer their time as OSI directors
into such a high-pressure, time-compressed political game.

MongoDB should withdraw their request for license-review for now; we should
move the discussion of copyleft expansion over to OSI's license-discuss and
copyleft-next mailing lists instead; we should encourage that discussion to
blossom, expanding out into other areas of the community.  This will allow
the FOSS process of wide-ranging public discussion to shake out these ideas,
just as was done with Affero GPL from the 2002-2008 period of its vetting.

Given the higher level of sophistication of the FOSS community today, I suspect
we could yield reasonable consensus in just 3-4 (instead of 6) years from now.
Bradley M. Kuhn

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