Subject: Re: Questions to OSI Board quorum
From: Ernest Prabhakar <>
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2005 15:33:26 -0800

Hi Russell et al,

On Nov 15, 2005, at 12:27 PM, Russell Nelson wrote:
> What you want is not attainable in an open source license.  Give it
> up.  Even if you got the license, most developers would look at "All
> your code are belong to us" and run away screaming.  So it's not like
> you're giving us any incentive to bend your away.  We've approved
> licenses before, saying "dang, but this isn't a great license" and
> time has shown us correct by the licenses' lack of adoption.

I think this is a Really Important Point that is often overlooked.

The old-timers (5+ years :-) may remember that the original  
characterization of the OSD was as a way to document "existing"  
community standards for what felt like a "free" license, in order to  
capture in concrete form those intangible factors that led to  
community adoption.  In that sense, I understood it as a sort of  
"compiler hint" to license drafters, telling them "Look, if you want  
people to take your license seriously, please observe these norms."

Since then, of course, the OSD has accrued many other connotations  
since, but I think it helpful to remember the original (and IMHO  
still guiding) purpose.

> We don't want open source projects to fail.  We want you to succeed.
> Thus, I'm not going to recommend to the board that we go out of our
> way to help you fail; not even a little bit.

Well said.  I agree that the community is best served when "OSD  
conformance" is a strong indication of trust, not a mere legal  
formality.  We can quibble around the margins -- there are still some  
valid open questions -- but I hope we can at least agree on the intent.

-- Ernie P.