[License-discuss] discussion of L-R process [was Re: [License-review] Approval: Server Side Public License, Version 2 (SSPL v2)]

Richard Fontana richard.fontana at opensource.org
Fri Mar 15 21:26:45 UTC 2019

On Fri, Mar 15, 2019 at 3:25 PM Ben Hilburn <bhilburn at gmail.com> wrote:

> For what it's worth, I think if the decision process was more clear & transparent, it would be easier to tell whether or not "loud voices" actually do carry undue influence. As things stand now, I think you could construct pretty strong arguments going either way - which is a huge part of the problem.

For many submitted licenses, there is no vote because the submitter
essentially withdraws from the process (formally or otherwise) in the
face of negative reaction on the mailing list. One of the more famous
examples of this was the submission of CC0, where Creative Commons
withdrew the license from consideration after the discussion came to
center on criticism of the  "No ... patent rights held by Affirmer are
waived, abandoned, surrendered, licensed or otherwise affected by this
document." language. But in most cases the community (license-review)
reaction clearly points in one direction. Historically there was a
tendency to encourage the license submitter to withdraw. The recent
decision to reject the Convertible Free Software License v1.4 is
believed to be the first time the OSI ever rejected a license.

That might suggest that if there's a loud voices problem, it is not
about undue influence on *OSI*, but undue influence on the license
submitter (i.e., the reaction to the license is so overwhelmingly
negative that the license submitter informally or formally withdraws
from the process). This view implies that the OSI ought to be
approving more licenses than it has been. Yet for a long time the OSI
struggled to accommodate the view that it had erred in the past by too
easily approving too many licenses (most of which were submitted by
business interests, it should be noted), and there is still a
viewpoint out there that the OSI should withdraw entirely from license
approval because we have all the licenses we could possibly need. And
there has also been much criticism of what some pejoratively call
"crayon licenses" (I more charitably call them thought experiments)
which characterize a lot of the license submissions.


More information about the License-discuss mailing list