[License-discuss] The per se license constructor

VanL van.lindberg at gmail.com
Sun Mar 17 22:01:19 UTC 2019

I think it gets back to the core purpose of the OSI: To be a steward for
the OSD and to certify licenses as compliant with the OSD. There are many
other good things the OSI *can* do, but that is the one thing it *must* do.

So how does that get back to L-D and L-R? Well, the OSI board is not
composed of lawyers. So L-D and L-R end up being systems for recommending
(or not recommending) licenses for approval based upon various criteria.

Those criteria seem to include:

1) Compliance with the OSD. This can have a more or less legal feel, but it
seems necessary to identify whether particular licenses do or don't appear
to comply with various parts of the OSD.

2) The law. If the license is not legally sound, that is a good reason to
recommend against it. Board members could vote to approve or deny based
upon how persuasive those arguments are.

3) Policy choices affecting open source usage or the open source community.
Certain licenses may implicate policy issues that, on the whole, a board
member could feel was detrimental to the community as a whole.

4) Community reaction. Licenses are community organizing tools, and having
communities indicate a willingness to use a particular license is an strong
indicator of quality or acceptability. Similarly, a strong negative
reaction from community members could reasonably cause a board member to
vote against a license.

Thinking back on various discussions, I think that the most substantive
discussions really ended up focused on one or more of these criteria. It
also seems reasonable that criteria 1) and 2) are strongly legally
inflected, but any member can have a well-reasoned opinion with regard to
3) or 4).

There may be community or policy reasons to recommend against approving a
particular license. But - channeling McCoy Smith for a moment - when people
deal with licenses outside of the context of L-R and L-D, we only have the
text to rely on. So concerns about any of the above issues should be a
textually grounded.

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