[License-review] veto against Unlicense

Richard Fontana rfontana at redhat.com
Sun May 17 20:00:58 UTC 2020

On Sun, May 17, 2020 at 10:10 AM McCoy Smith <mccoy at lexpan.law> wrote:
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: License-review <license-review-bounces at lists.opensource.org> On
> > Behalf Of Pamela Chestek
> > Sent: Sunday, May 17, 2020 6:59 AM
> > To: license-review at lists.opensource.org
> > Subject: Re: [License-review] veto against Unlicense
> >
> > This does bring up a question. The submission asked for placement in the
> > "Licenses that are popular and widely used or with strong communities"
> > category. I don't think that category is correct given that a dedication
> to the
> > public domain, not licensing, is the primary goal. There aren't any other
> > appropriate categories that I see, so I would then default to
> "uncategorized."
> >
> Yeah, as someone who was on the license proliferation committee when this
> categorization was formulated (and which was very highly debated both within
> that committee and by the mailing lists when it was proposed), I'd say that
> *no* new license (other than updates of licenses on that list, like
> EPLv1.0->EPLv2.0) should be proposed to be slotted into that category upon
> submission.  In fact, I think there should be a separate board vote to
> either place a license into that category, or to take one off of it, given
> that that category was intended to really reflect the gold standard licenses
> that really have gotten widespread adoption across many many projects over a
> long time.

I basically agree with that, though I'm a longtime critic of that list
and believe the OSI ought to replace it with an updated list based on
data and objective criteria on present-day license adoption.

While I agree with Pam that "Uncategorized" is the right category for
the Unlicense, I don't agree that the
popular-widely-used-strong-communities list is inherently not correct
"given that a dedication to the public domain, not licensing, is the
primary goal". I think that attaches too much significance to the
Unlicense authors' choice of terminology and style (including the
fanciful name of the Unlicense itself), which seems related to what is
causing angst for the formalist critics. Leaving those critics'
objections aside, the Unlicense functions in practice as a license, no
differently from the licenses on the
popular-widely-used-strong-communities list. If it got as popular and
widely used, and produced communities as strong as those associated
with, the MIT license or the Apache License 2.0 or the GPL, it will
have earned a place on that list -- assuming it otherwise meets the
criteria for being an OSD-conformant, software-freedom-providing open
source license (which I believe it does).


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