[License-discuss] [Infrastructure] Machine readable source of OSI approved licenses?

Simon Phipps simon at webmink.com
Thu Dec 19 15:03:45 UTC 2013

This sounds useful and I'd support the idea if a group were willing to make
it happen. I suggest a staged implementation with the "Popular Licenses"
being made available first and the others set up to return a placeholder
message or error.

On Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 2:07 AM, Joe Murray <joe.murray at jmaconsulting.biz>wrote:

> Would it be possible for OSI to make available a machine readable list of
> the licenses approved by OSI? The format - a csv, xml or some other file in
> a repository, or a REST or some other service from opensource.org - is
> not as important as that the content be authoritative. There may be an
> official specification for how software licenses should be made available,
> but I am not aware of it. http://spdx.org/licenses/ provides a list of
> licenses but it too is not designed for automated use (though it might be
> scrapable). Ideally, it seems like the recognition of licenses by OSI
> should produce some output that could be used by SPDX tools, but this
> request is a bit simpler.
> Background:
> CiviCRM would like the set of licenses in this form in order to ensure
> that any extensions that we list on civicrm.org and provide auto-download
> services for via civicrm.org are using licenses approved by OSI. However,
> the request seems of broader interest. Karl Fogel suggested I pose it to
> these two lists.
> CiviCRM decided to try to up its game with respect to licensing of its
> extensions partly as a result of someone coming across
> http://www.zdnet.com/github-improves-open-source-licensing-polices-7000018213/.
> While early on most civicrm.org listed extensions were hosted on
> drupal.org and thus were guaranteed to have a GPL license, now most of
> our new listings are for software on github. CiviCRM would also like to
> 'assist' extension developers in actually including an accurate license
> text file in their extension by checking it is present in the extension's
> root directory and that its text matches what they are listing as the
> license. I've been asked to liaise with OSI on the availability of such a
> machine readable list of these licenses.
> Possible implementation strategy:
> If OSI decides it would like to do this, it may be technically as simple
> as copying the licenses on opensource.org from one type of node to
> another, then doing a bit of cleanup to support some requirements for
> automated use. Looking at opensource.org, I see a content type was at
> some point created specifically for licenses, though no content has been
> posted of that type, and all the licenses are currently created as nodes
> with content type=page.
> In terms of fields for automated use, it would be useful to move the short
> title into its own field rather than having it in parentheses at the end of
> the long title, and to make a plain text version of licenses suitable for
> inclusion as a LICENSE.txt file in source code available in addition to the
> current html formatted ones. If the approved licenses on opensource.orgwere put into suitable content types, they could easily be made available
> as a feed or exported periodically to a file that could be stored in an
> authoritative repository.
> I am also trying to understand the proper way to handle headers in license
> files, particularly for the small number of cases where they make a
> difference, eg GPL-3.0 versus GPL-3.0+ (see
> http://opensource.org/licenses/gpl-3.0.html#howto, and the differences
> between the 'How to Apply These Terms to Your New Programs' sections of
> http://spdx.org/licenses/GPL-3.0 and http://spdx.org/licenses/GPL-3.0+).
> This seems like something we want to assist developers in getting right by
> using reasonable defaults. One possibility we are mulling over is
> optionally automating the creation of a LICENSE.txt file using metadata
> about the Author, publication date, and license and suggesting that authors
> use that file in their repo or request a manual review of their
> LICENSE.txt. It would be convenient if suggested header text for licenses
> was made available in machine readable form from OSI, including for the
> differences between 'version x only' and 'version x or later' headers.
> I am willing to volunteer with doing some of the implementation work if a
> decision is made to provide this new service.
> Joe Murray, PhD
> President, JMA Consulting
> joe.murray at jmaconsulting.biz
> skype JosephPMurray twitter JoeMurray
> 416.466.1281
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*Simon Phipps*  http://webmink.com
*Meshed Insights Ltd *
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