Subject: License Reviews
From: "Lawrence E. Rosen" <>
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2000 11:47:04 -0800

This email is in response to a current thread about the modification of
existing licenses.

Currently, OSI must approve even minor changes in previously-approved
licenses.  The Board of Directors is considering new procedures to help
everyone avoid such time-consuming reviews.  An announcement about new
procedures will be sent out shortly.

Despite Karsten Self's comment to the effect that he and I are arguing about
the proliferation of licenses, that isn't quite accurate.  Like most people
working within OSI, I share his concern that most proposed licenses (and
there are more than 54 "proposed licenses" still on OSI's list awaiting
review!) offer little new to the open source community.  This doesn't mean
that I agree with him that the open source world is ready for an "emergent
standard" license (e.g., in Karsten's list, GPL, BSD/MIT, or MozPL).  Even
the renowned GPL has gone through several revisions with another one
reportedly in development.  I hope the open source community can help
encourage creative thinking in licensing, just as it encourages creative
thinking in software development, without settling too early on a

OSI is currently soliciting funding to sponsor a conference on open source
and free software licensing, directed primarily toward lawyers and licensing
professionals, so that some of these issues can be addressed in a methodical
and careful way.  Please send me your suggestions for topics to be addressed
at such a conference -- and if you represent a company or organization that
would like to contribute toward this conference, please call me!

/Larry Rosen
Executive Director, OSI

> on Wed, Nov 29, 2000 at 07:24:27AM -0800, Adam C. Engst
> ( wrote:
> > At 6:13 PM -0800 11/28/00, wrote:
> > >It's been part of my argument with Larry Rosen WRT the Jabber License.
> > >I agree with him in being able to move beyond the current state of art
> > >in licensing, rather than being stuck with static terms dictated by
> > >another party, I still have very strong misgivings over license
> > >proliferation.
> > >
> > >Fortunately, the practice appears to be fading somewhat, and projects
> > >which have adopted distinctive licenses are either fading or adopting
> > >one of the emergent standards (GPL, BSD/MIT, or MozPL).
> >
> >  From this, it would seem that you're saying my concern over making
> > necessary modifications to a license is well-founded, and most open
> > source projects are dealing with it by adopting one of the licenses
> > that explicitly tries to be general. I guess my question remains,
> > though. If you do need to make any changes at all, is it true that
> > OSI needs to re-certify the result?
> OSI would have to answer that, my understanding is that they do.
> However, for modifications which are restricted to simple substitutions
> in well-established licenses, this review is easier, if not expedited.