[License-discuss] Language, appropriateness, and ideas

VM Brasseur (OSI) vmbrasseur at opensource.org
Fri Feb 28 06:25:04 UTC 2020

The purpose of the list is right there, as they say, on the tin: license discuss. We are all here to discuss, learn, research, share, and investigate the world of software licenses as they pertain to open source. Josh, Van, Gil, and others have stated as such, and I'm grateful to each of them for their words, but more for their patience.

This investigation and learning may at times involve discussion of concepts—such as the Persona Non Grata preamble—with which you may disagree. Whether or not these concepts work against the mission of OSI and the meaning of the OSD isn't beside the point, it _is_ the point. If people are not free to ask questions like this here, they will not ask them at all and will instead simply act on them without experienced advice. One thing we all can agree on, I'm sure, is that this would not be a good thing.

Members of this list are, by and large, supporters of the OSD. Supporters, not sycophants, and not blind followers. By providing a safe space for people to explore these questions around the OSD and open source licensing—even if these questions may end up critical of the OSD and we don't agree with them—we learn more about the edge cases. This sort of exploration will strengthen the OSD against attacks from actors who do not respect it enough to raise and discuss those questions with its supporters here on the list. These discussions may also lead to the evolution of the OSD and, if not, at least ensure that even _that_ question is considered thoughtfully rather than dismissed out of hand.

Therefore, as has already been said multiple times, this list must welcome good faith but potentially difficult questions relating to open source licensing (and, by extension, the OSD). Critical discussions are welcome, as are disagreements, but as Van has already pointed out several times, disrespect and rudeness in those disagreements is not.

If there are members of the list who are not comfortable with respectfully participating in the potentially critical or divergent discussions here, for the sake of better understanding open source licensing and the OSD, they may wish to reconsider why they are on the list and whether doing so continues to be the best use of their time.

I, for one, am grateful to Eric Schultz for bringing these questions to the list. I'm much less grateful for the behaviour exhibited by some of the respondents to those questions, behaviour which has driven Mr. Schultz away. Even there, however, I find a ray of hope. While the behaviours were unwelcome and uncalled for, the response to them was not. By having this—equally difficult—metadiscussion about the scope of the list, and by removing bad actors from it, the moderators and members are taking another step toward making the list a more valuable resource and community. Thanks to everyone who's helped with this. Keep up the good work.


> On 27 Feb 2020, at 16:29, Thorsten Glaser <tg at mirbsd.de> wrote:
> Joshua R. Simmons dixit:
>> I just want to underscore that this is, indeed, meant to be a place where
>> we can discuss licenses ;-)
> Ones that improve Open Source, sure.
> Licences that introduce new arbitrary restrictions… not so much.
> bye,
> //mirabilos
> -- 
> “It is inappropriate to require that a time represented as
> seconds since the Epoch precisely represent the number of
> seconds between the referenced time and the Epoch.”
> 	-- IEEE Std 1003.1b-1993 (POSIX) Section B.2.2.2
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