Subject: RE: BSD-like licenses and the OSI approval process
From: Donovan Hawkins <>
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2007 17:32:08 -0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)

On Tue, 16 Oct 2007, Lawrence Rosen wrote:

> OSL is the 11th most commonly used open source license in open source
> projects in the world. AFL is the 12th. (The Non-Profit OSL is too new to
> show up in the list of the most commonly used 20 licenses.) I'm proud of
> those statistics.

As well you should be...getting over the chicken/egg dilema (people won't 
use it until other people are using it) must be quite difficult. That 
said, the actually percentages though are mostly in the first two or three 
licenses on the list, aren't they? (GPL and BSDL being the top two from 
what I've seen in the past). Once you get much below that, the percentages 
are extremely small.

As I've said, a couple of my problems with AFL are:

It is only one permissive license, so at best it could be a "better 
BSDL". It couldn't replace all the other permissive licenses which 
explicitly want to do things differently, like require code changes 
distributed as a diff or runtime legal notices.

It has clauses that some wouldn't want in their permissive license. The 
patent retaliation clause may come in handy someday, as might the court 
costs or venue selection, but most permissive licenses are not taken to 
court and I suspect the people who continue to use BSDL don't want 
anything that aggressive in their license. I don't know whether I agree 
with them or not (I do on the patent retaliation, but not necessarily on 
the other two), but they are the ones we have to convince to leave BSDL 
for something better.

It may be a fine license, but it's not the solution to permissive license 
proliferation. It's also a difficult sell for people who want to be 
maximally compatible...BSDL does a better job there at the moment.

> For example, they included the CDDL among "popular"
> licenses because one of its authors was on the OSI committee, but CDDL
> doesn't even show up on the list of the 20 most commonly used licenses.

Obviously that isn't appropriate and should be corrected.

Donovan Hawkins, PhD                 "The study of physics will always be
Software Engineer                     safer than biology, for while the                   hazards of physics drop off as 1/r^2,                biological ones grow exponentially."