[License-discuss] "Fairness" vs. mission objectives

McCoy Smith mccoy at lexpan.law
Mon Feb 24 17:58:48 UTC 2020

>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: License-discuss <license-discuss-bounces at lists.opensource.org> On
Behalf Of Eric S. Raymond
>>Sent: Monday, February 24, 2020 5:01 AM
>>To: license-discuss at lists.opensource.org
>>Subject: [License-discuss] "Fairness" vs. mission objectives

>>Pamela Chestek's has asserted that it would be "unfair" to revoke
certification of licenses we have previously accepted.

Is the proposal to "revoke" or simply to "deprecate"?  The latter seems to
be a better mechanism to discourage future uses, and nudge current or past
users to move to a non-deprecated license, without the immediate harsh
consequences against current users.  And, FWIW, it seems that a substantial
number of the problematic licenses have a very small user base, or indeed,
are only used by the original submitter.

>>But I deny that "fairness" in the sense Ms. Chestek seems to intend it
falls under tht rubric, and affirm that we *should* revoke licenses on any
occasion that we discover that we have erred in analyzing them and they have
negative consequences for our mission.

There is the other fairness angle here: if an already-approved license has a
problematic provision that might be violative of the OSD, is it fair to
reject future license submissions containing the same problematic provision?
Several recent submitters have invoked a form of stare decisis based on past
license approvals, and have argued it is unfair to reject their license for
reasons that were not applied to past submissions.  That fairness argument,
IMO, has some merit.

>>The analogy is exact.  We should prioritize OSI's principles and mission
over the incidental costs of de-certifying a license, because the defense of
those principle and the execution of that mission is what our community
expects and our charter demands.

It would seem to me a first step in that process is to clearly articulate
and get community buy-in as to what the overarching principles and missions
are here.  The OSD could be that, but it seems to me that many have argued
there are other principles and missions -- the "unwritten rules" -- that
underly the OSI's mission.  Having unwritten rules, or rules that favor
certain submitters over others, seem to be the main cause of the debates
about fairness and the consistency of the process.

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