Subject: Re: OSD#5 needs a patch?
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 09 Oct 2003 14:05:59 -0700

Chuck Swiger <> writes:

> > I believe that a license can be OSD-compliant without being
> > OSI-approved.
> Interesting.  Is this because you believe that the OSD is incomplete
> and that it should disallow more licenses, or is this because you
> believe that OSI approval should not be the same as "OSD compliant"?

The latter.

Being OSD-compliant is, in principle, a matter of fact which can be
determined by any careful reader.  A license either does or does not
comply with the OSD based on the reading of the text of the license
and the text of the OSD.

(In practice, natural language is ambiguous, and the OSD is an attempt
to pin down a somewhat nebulous idea, so we have lots of discussions
about whether particular licenses are in fact OSD-compliant.)

The OSI is an advocacy organization which claims to operate ``for the
good of the community.''  That gives it considerable freedom of action
with respect to actually approving licenses.  I would argue that the
OSI is not obligated to put a license on the approved list merely
because it is OSD-compliant.  The fact that a license is OSD-compliant
does not necessarily imply that approving it is ``for the good of the

On the other hand, one could imagine a different sort of OSI which was
purely in the business of determining whether licenses met the OSD.
The difference is along the lines of the difference between the city
council which may approve or deny a building permit on a wide range of
arguments, including ``the good of the community,'' and the building
department which simply determines whether or not a particular
proposed building meets the city code.

license-discuss archive is at