Subject: BSD-like licenses and the OSI approval process
From: "Lawrence Rosen" <lrosen@rosenlaw.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2007 19:29:22 -0700
Thu, 11 Oct 2007 19:29:22 -0700
There have been a few suggestions in recent days that OSI review and approve
BSD-like licenses in use around the world. From personal experience, I can
tell you (1) there are a large number of subtly-different BSD-like licenses;
(2) there aren't enough differences among these licenses to warrant the time
and effort to review them. We are cluttering the open source commons with
too many similar licenses. Who needs them? Why should people have to read
them? Why should people have to comprehend their miniscule differences?

 

Here's a radical solution for solving that problem. 

 

1. I'd scour the Internet for all BSD-licensed source code software, in all
license variants. (This can be automated; just ask Black Duck or Palomida.)

 

2. I'd then collect all that BSD-licensed software on a single website. (I
visualize something like Source Forge.)

 

3. I'd then distribute all that software from that website under the AFL 3.0
license. (If FSF can distribute BSD-licensed software under the GPL, and
Microsoft can distribute it under proprietary licenses, I can certainly
distribute it under AFL 3.0.) 

 

The AFL 3.0-licensed software I distribute is OSI-certified open source
software, even if the underlying BSD-like licenses aren't individually
approved by OSI. Any users who want to reassure themselves that their
software is truly open source can obtain that software from my website
rather than read and review each of those BSD-like licenses.

 

Note that I haven't changed the underlying BSD license. Anyone who receives
the software from me obtains it under AFL 3.0 *and also* under the original
BSD-like license. I have to include the BSD license text with my source
code. If the recipients don't like the AFL 3.0 terms they can revert to the
original version of the software under the original BSD license. But why
would they bother? AFL 3.0 gives them all the same rights.

 

Let's please stop complicating open source licensing with meaningless
variations of BSD-style licenses.

 

By the way, even though I describe this solution as a unilateral action, I'd
be much more comfortable if the community itself would realize that we're
wasting everyone's time with repetitive license approvals and they would
make the license changes themselves.

 

/Larry

 

Lawrence Rosen

Rosenlaw & Einschlag, a technology law firm (www.rosenlaw.com)

3001 King Ranch Road, Ukiah, CA 95482

707-485-1242 * cell: 707-478-8932 * fax: 707-485-1243

Skype: LawrenceRosen

Author of "Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom and 

                Intellectual Property Law" (Prentice Hall 2004)

 



There have been a few suggestions in recent days that OSI review and approve BSD-like licenses in use around the world. From personal experience, I can tell you (1) there are a large number of subtly-different BSD-like licenses; (2) there aren't enough differences among these licenses to warrant the time and effort to review them. We are cluttering the open source commons with too many similar licenses. Who needs them? Why should people have to read them? Why should people have to comprehend their miniscule differences?

 

Here's a radical solution for solving that problem.

 

1. I'd scour the Internet for all BSD-licensed source code software, in all license variants. (This can be automated; just ask Black Duck or Palomida.)

 

2. I'd then collect all that BSD-licensed software on a single website. (I visualize something like Source Forge.)

 

3. I'd then distribute all that software from that website under the AFL 3.0 license. (If FSF can distribute BSD-licensed software under the GPL, and Microsoft can distribute it under proprietary licenses, I can certainly distribute it under AFL 3.0.)

 

The AFL 3.0-licensed software I distribute is OSI-certified open source software, even if the underlying BSD-like licenses aren't individually approved by OSI. Any users who want to reassure themselves that their software is truly open source can obtain that software from my website rather than read and review each of those BSD-like licenses.

 

Note that I haven't changed the underlying BSD license. Anyone who receives the software from me obtains it under AFL 3.0 *and also* under the original BSD-like license. I have to include the BSD license text with my source code. If the recipients don't like the AFL 3.0 terms they can revert to the original version of the software under the original BSD license. But why would they bother? AFL 3.0 gives them all the same rights.

 

Let's please stop complicating open source licensing with meaningless variations of BSD-style licenses.

 

By the way, even though I describe this solution as a unilateral action, I'd be much more comfortable if the community itself would realize that we're wasting everyone's time with repetitive license approvals and they would make the license changes themselves.

 

/Larry

 

Lawrence Rosen

Rosenlaw & Einschlag, a technology law firm (www.rosenlaw.com)

3001 King Ranch Road, Ukiah, CA 95482

707-485-1242 * cell: 707-478-8932 * fax: 707-485-1243

Skype: LawrenceRosen

Author of "Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom and

                Intellectual Property Law" (Prentice Hall 2004)