Subject: Re: BSD-like licenses and the OSI approval process
From: "Ben Tilly" <btilly@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2007 12:55:55 -0700

On 10/17/07, Chris Travers <chris.travers@gmail.com> wrote:
> On 10/16/07, Philippe Verdy <verdy_p@wanadoo.fr> wrote:
> >
> > So if the fact that they use "open source" terms for describing the licence
> > does not matter. We are ONLY interested in the compatibility of the licence
> > with our set of approved licences. And for me this is just enough, however
> > IANAL...
>
> However, taking this viewpoint will effectively prevent the OSI from
> asserting that non-OSI approved licenses should not be called open
> source (as Mr Tiemann has argued in his blog).

Not so fast.

IANAL either, but it seems to me that if the copyright holder says,
"My license is open source because it grants sufficient permissions to
allow it to be relicensed as X", that statement itself is sufficient
permission to allow someone to distribute under the terms of X.
Therefore the software is now implicitly licensed as X and is
effectively an open source license.

Even if there might be a legal question about whether the terms of
your license really do allow relicensing as X, I would think that your
asserting that it is allowed can be construed as sufficient
permission.

Of course this only applies if the copyright holder is on record
saying this.  If someone else says it, then there is the question of
whether they're right.  Who has liability if they're wrong?

That's the fly in the ointment for Larry Rosen's approach of just
relicensing a bunch of stuff under one license.  Sure, anyone *can* do
that.  But until someone actually *does*, other people can justifiably
wonder whether they are truly compatible.  And the person who actually
does the work of doing that is taking on liability by doing so.  (The
liability risk is very minor if they do a good job of vetting the
licenses.  But even so it is not entirely non-existent.)

Cheers,
Ben