Why is BSD OSI certified?

John Cowan jcowan at reutershealth.com
Wed Oct 16 19:04:36 UTC 2002

Rod Dixon scripsit:

> John, would you further clarify your point? I am unsure whether I
> understand the distinction you are making. An open source software license
> governs open source software.

Although the OSI certifies licenses, the OSD is a definition of what
it means for *software* to be Open Source.  Eight of the nine restrictions
are worded in terms of what the license of the software must provide for;
but OSD #2 restricts the software directly, saying that unobscured
source code for the program must be easily available, but in no way
constraining the license.

> How did you splice this to get to Netscape
> 7.0? I can post part of Netscape's license, if necessary, but paragraph 5
> (I think) raises exactly the point Alain raised (but with regard to the
> BSD).

I suppose you mean the NPL.  But Netscape 7.0 is not distributed under the
NPL, and indeed contains components whose source code is proprietary.
Taken as a whole, Netscape 7.0 is as closed as Windows.  I have been
unsuccessful in finding a specific license for Netscape 7.0, but the
general Netscape license at http://wp.netscape.com/terms/index.html#sw
forbids modifying, selling, copying, or distributing anything not
explicitly distributed under any other license such as the NPL or MPL.

> At issue is whether a developer can define their way out of open
> source by arguing that their product does not meet the definition.

I assume you mean derivative works, since clearly the creator of an
original work can release under any license he pleases, Open Source
or not.  I am not aware of any licenses that require derivative works
to be Open Source simpliciter.  Certain licenses constrain derivative
works to be released under a specified license or licenses (e.g. the GNU
GPL requires derivatives to be released under the GNU GPL; the GNU LGPL
requires certain kinds of derivatives to be released under the GNU LGPL
or else the GNU GPL, but other kinds are not constrained).

However, the GPL does not require the software to be released at all,
still less its source; you may create a derivative work and keep it in
your back pocket without breach.  Other licenses are more demanding:
the APSL insists that you publish your modifications even if you do not
distribute your derivative work at all, if you use it in a non-permitted
fashion.  (This is why the APSL is not a free software license.)

> This is
> not the current purpose of the OSD so I am hopeful that I have
> misunderstood your point.
> Rod
> On Wed, 16 Oct 2002, John Cowan wrote:
> > Alain =?iso-8859-1?Q?D=E9silets?= scripsit:
> > >
> > > Looking on OSI's web site, I see that BSD is OSI certified.
> > >
> > > However, one criteria for OSI certification is that:
> > >
> > > "Where some form of a product is not distributed with source code, there
> > > must be a well-publicized means of obtaining the source code for no more
> > > than a reasonable reproduction cost–preferably, downloading via the
> > > Internet without charge."
> >
> > OSD #2 is different from the other requirements: it says what a product
> > must allow in order to be Open Source, rather than what the product's
> > license must allow.  A binary-only distribution is not itself Open Source,
> > for the sufficient reason that it is not source at all, even if it was
> > built from Open Source (BSD, MIT, AFL, etc.) components.
> >
> > The MPL is an Open Source license, and Mozilla is an Open Source product,
> > but Netscape 7.0 is not an Open Source product, because not all of its
> > source is available to us, even though most of its source is licensed
> > under the MPL.
> >
> > --
> > John Cowan <jcowan at reutershealth.com>     http://www.reutershealth.com
> > I amar prestar aen, han mathon ne nen,    http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
> > han mathon ne chae, a han noston ne 'wilith.  --Galadriel, _LOTR:FOTR_
> > --
> > license-discuss archive is at http://crynwr.com/cgi-bin/ezmlm-cgi?3
> >

He made the Legislature meet at one-horse       John Cowan
tank-towns out in the alfalfa belt, so that     jcowan at reutershealth.com
hardly nobody could get there and most of       http://www.reutershealth.com
the leaders would stay home and let him go      http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
to work and do things as he pleased.    --Mencken, _Declaration of Independence_
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