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

Joe Murray joe.murray at jmaconsulting.biz
Thu Dec 19 15:57:12 UTC 2013

Thanks, Simon.

What I really want help with is someone to a) proofread the text that I
change from html to text, and b) to provide feedback / direction on matters
like whether it would be okay to create separate nodes with different names
for version x and version x or later licenses on opensource.org.

If someone wanted to c) liaise with SPDX on an RDF format or something for
how the licenses could be made available to their tools, that would be cool
and great for the open source world but not necessary for my purposes.

If someone with Drupal experience d) wanted to help with the design and
implementation that would be a bonus, but I'm ready to shoulder that.

Joe Murray, PhD
President, JMA Consulting
joe.murray at jmaconsulting.biz
skype JosephPMurray twitter JoeMurray

On Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 10:03 AM, Simon Phipps <simon at webmink.com> wrote:

> 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.org were 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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>> Infrastructure at opensource.org
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> --
> *Simon Phipps*  http://webmink.com
> *Meshed Insights Ltd *
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