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OSI Creates License List

justin++ posted more than 15 years ago | from the ianal dept.

News 67

Russ Nelson writes "The Open Source Initiative voted April 5 to approve the following motion: ``To improve the process of evaluating proposed licenses as OSD-compliant, we will establish an open mailing list where such proposed licenses may be discussed. The names of the companies associated with such licenses may be anonymized.'' That mailing list has been created and is license-discuss. " Interesting - looks like us legal nerds need to be subscribed to yet another list now...Glad to see OSI opening up a bit.

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Where is the archive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1939943)

There probably is not very much traffic on this list yet, but I would like to know where the archive is so I can browse through the messages after a few weeks. I couldn't find anything on Has anybody else already made a (web) archive of this list?

how do you subscribe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1939944)

i can't find the instructions.

Consensual hallucinations RULE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1939945)

Heh heh. Heh heh heh. Heh heh.

this list is important, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1939946)

because it will provide raymond with a more congenial forum for telling people to "watch their step(TM)". heh.

Bad approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1939947)

I couldn't agree more.

On the OSS web page I remember reading about some sort of "branding" program. They are trying to control it all.

Honestly, I don't use the words "open source" any more. Its plain wrong how they have twisted words around to imply they are owners/founders of this movement that has been going on for many years.

Free software or no software.

Having more licenses will add to the confusion already present. OSI is not working for developers obviously. Soon once was free software land will be littered with multiple licensed programs.

Imagine this:

A library developer creates a library and includes source from a differently licensed program.

You use code from this library. You do not use the differently licensed parts because you do not want to change your current license (and do not need the other parts).

Later on the library developer moves parts of the code around and some things get moved to a different license. The developer also fixes a very bad bug.

You, having problems with the bug, download the library only to find out you can not use it now because of license incompatibility.

And you thought C++ got tricky. Half the people today don't bother reading the GPL. Just imagine 2,000 licenses. It will happen too. Thats the only way free software will be defeated. No one wants to mess with that many licenses (I don't even like today's amount).

Re-read your Friedman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1939948)

I'd also expect Milton Friedman to support certification programs -- as a competitive alternative to things like the FDA and USDA. It's pretty clear that this can work well if consumers understand that they have the obligation to look out for their own safety.

The OSI runs into some complexities, because it's not trying to certify that things are high quality, just that they're free. There are therefore some arguments that it won't be as effective as conventional certification programs.

Thinker; I REALLY like this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1939949)

Would you send me an email so I can thank you specifically?

Well, Mike. Digital TV's will connect to the Net (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1939950)

for starters. And they will simultaneously connect to the TV broadcast plants, and to anything you put on your lan in your house. The broadcast content will be coming from all kinds of servers running all kinds of OS's. Some of them will, no doubt, be running Linux, but that will be quite irrelevant.

The new generation of TV's will be preferred to a computer by most people, will be far more popular and far less expensive. Plus, they'll do everything a computer can do, because they'll derive their software from computers. There will be no need for a computer in the home, though.

Now, isn't that guy with his toaster & email comment funny? And original, too.

outstanding. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1939951)

I for one congratulate OSI on this move. I hope it will calm down others in the freed software community.

Has anybody been subscribed yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1939952)

I sent email to almost two hpours ago, but I did not get any confirmation. Has somebody succeeded in subscribing to this list? Is there a archive anywhere?

Has anybody been subscribed yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1939953)

I did the same and got no response...

Nobody ever applied for a trademark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1939954)

The application is for the certification mark, as others have noted.

This all doesn't matter anyway. The personal computer is soon going to be replaced by personal interactive digital television which won't even need an OS or software apps. You all missed it. That's the price you pay for letting yourselves get distracted by things that don't matter in the big picture.

So, is this off topic if it's just to say that there are soon to be no licenses? Get mad, get crude. It won't change a thing except distract you further. Delay reacting and you'll just diminish your ability to understand and deal with what you'll soon have to deal with anyway.

Diversity is evidence of a robust system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1939955)

Biologists find value in diversity and I believe the same could be said for the software/OS development model. (This is another way of saying the Wintel hegemony that currently dominates the computer marketplace is bad.) At the risk of becomming flamebait, I will add that I believe that "open" is more important to the community as a whole than "free"--if the code is open we can at least find out what we are getting and have a prayer of dealing with the problems which will ineveitably occur. For a part of the community, that the code be in some sense free will also remain important. Most of us with tight budgets want code that is literally free, or at least cheap. There are additional values to unencumbered code to those who are coders, which can be analogized to the biological use of clean air and water which can be used without cost to the individual. There is a definite benefit to a community of programmers and users of having open source code, and the existence of code which is both open and free means that a part of those communities are in a perfect development environment.

The existence of open/free software means that the future course of development of software will not be particularly driven by proprietary interests. 20 years ago, major developments came out of commercial houses who had secret in-house experiments running. For instance, Apple had begun the project which led to the Mac as a proprietary ih-house project, although Jobs wouldn't pay any attention until Xerox had dumped their project (which started later than Apple) out into the public eye and some Apple insiders tricked Jobs into touring Xerox's public exhibition--this is not intended to give the true history of Apple (which is often misstated), but to point out that under that proprietary development paradigm the coders who knew the value of what they had were forced to resort to trickery in order to get their managers to pay attention. Closed systems hinder progress of the community as a whole, and even slows down hot beds of creativity (which I believe Apple was circa 1980).

I won't sermonize on the advantages of being open/free--most Slashdot readers have a pretty good idea about that--but would like the following observation about the types of effect the mere existence of the free/open movement is having on commercial entities. That effect is that they are starting to rethink their business models in very major ways--I had a conversation with an IBM VP in which he expressed total amazement about the fix to a major security bug in Linux that took less than 24 hours. There is a global community out there that fixes this sort of thing, don't you know, and while the commercial world at its best is just as good this is very very impressive. They are looking for ways to cooperate with that internet community, and as part of that you are going to see a lot of one-off licenses in the next few years as each corporate entity tries to enter into cooperation. The people making the decisions were for the most part coders at one point in their career and really thrilled by what they see going on--at least at IBM, but I infer that similar situations exist elsewhere. They will browbeat their organizations into making some fundamental changes--but large organizations tend to have strong self-preservation instincts and the changes will be slow.

If the debate in forums such as this can be civilized and kept relatively free of religious fervor, I think very good things will come out of it. This is your feedback mechanism to the people who will be making decisions about what code should be open, and under what license terms. Very few in the commercial world can embrace the GPL (and you really wouldn't want all those tens of thousands of programming jobs to go away), but there are many things they can give to the free/open community nonetheless.

This would be great on a Beowulf cluster! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1939956)


its a start (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1939957)

Not likely (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1939958)

Apache ain't gpled. It has an X11 like copyright

Has anybody been subscribed yet? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939959)

Same here. Does this list actually exist? Every mailing list I've ever been on sends confirmation of your subscription to the list.

No, toasters are the appliance of the future (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939960)

What, you don't like reading your email on the toaster?

Trademark (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939961)

Ok, I suppose this is somewhat off-topic, but I happened to notice it now.

The page says:
The phrase `open source' has been registered as a certification mark.

I was under the impression that Software in the Public Interest had applied for trademark registration, but that it had not actually yet been registered as a certification mark.

So has it been registered as a certification mark, or is the statement on incorrect?

its a start (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939962)

Posted by Forward The Light Brigade:

ok great. so now we rate these licenses... we need to come up with a license that is clear in a legal sense (this is NOT the GPL) and then evangelize it by taking it to the media and basically pushing it as the only true open source...

instead of a viral license how about a chameleon-one....

if they release source, our source is free for them...

if they want to sell something with the source in it, then the author gets a cut...

ad infinitum... the Java license is like this, right?

QPL does this I think. (1)

zerblat (785) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939963)

Okay. Say I create a QPL'd piece of software, and someone else grabs my code and creates a derived work which also includes a few lines of code from Qt. This would mean Troll Tech would be able to relicense my code. And of course, since Qt is the oldest QPL'd software there is, TT would be able to do the same thing with any QPL'd software.

Not that I think they'd do it, but if what you're saying is true, they could do it.

QPL does this I think. (1)

zerblat (785) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939964)

From the QPL:
a. Modifications must not alter or remove any copyright notices in the Software.

b. When modifications to the Software are released under this license, a non-exclusive royalty-free right is granted to the initial developer of the Software to distribute your modification in future versions of the Software provided such versions remain available under these terms in addition to any other license(s) of the initial developer.

So, if lots of people/companies start using the QPL for their software, can code from several QPL'd projects be mixed? And if someone uses code from several QPL'd projects with different "initial developers", who gets the non-exclusive royalty-free right to the code of that project?

License Codes? (1)

zerblat (785) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939965)

You mean something like the license codes [] that Jim Kingdon suggested in a feature? Hm, I don't know, while it might simplify understanding what a license allows you to do quickly, it might also be confusing. I think the best solution is to have a few "standard" free licenses -- GPL, LGPL, BSDish etc. Having a lot of incompatible licenses is very evil, and making it easy to create new licenses doesn't make the situation better.

These guys *are* our friends, after all! (1)

rlk (1089) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939966)

Let's not forget that despite our differences that our goals are *much* more in line than they ever could be with, say, Microsoft. We're arguing over fine details here. There's nothing wrong with that, but let's remember that our disagreements are fundamentally friendly, even when the tone isn't.

ESR, Bruce Perens, and RMS are all on the side of free source. Their motivations differ, as does precise details of what they consider appropriate, but their overall positions are still clustered quite tightly.

Who needs that mailing list?!? "SLML" instead? (1)

rlk (1089) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939967)

Question: is it possible to create a simple question tree (expert system) to decide whether a license is Open Source [with capital letters], or GNU [well, GNU-like], etc. ?

Why do we still have judges and juries?

It's clear that two people can read the same license and come to entirely different conclusions about whether a given license meets the standards that do exist. So for one thing, designing that kind of expert system would be problematic. Not to mention that implementing the kind of free text recognition needed to create the semantic information needed to do the evaluation.

Trademark - you can look them up online (1)

ikluft (1284) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939968)

A search at the US Patent & Trademark Office ( [] ) confirms that the certification mark application is pending. See the search results [] . However, even with an application pending, they have to defend it as they are doing.

Gosh, why even HAVE a list? (1)

nickm (1468) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939969)

I'm so glad that you folks are all hashing this out here instead of subscribing to the aforementioned list. Think of all the spam that the license-discuss people don't need to deal with, now!

No need for a license factory; it is bad, very bad (1)

Andy Tai (1884) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939970)

Ok, great... here come the people who want to create their own favirote licenses and push them, further dividing the community...

We don't need more licenses, or a license factory.

We need to discourage new licenses.

And the OSI is a marketing organization. It shall not push a "true" open source license.

And remember, something is not Open Source until the SPI agrees.

QPL does this I think. (1)

Wheely (2500) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939971)

Isn't this exactly what the QPL does? I've been thinking that great though the GPL is, it's starting to come at too high a price. Maybe it would be good to change to a new license even it is a practical impossibility.


Even so (1)

Gromer (9058) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939972)

Even the non-GPL licenses are strong enough for our purposes. If some company were to create a proprietary program out of software with a BSD- or X11-style license, it would be legal, but they still couldn't claim ownership of the original code. They could have their proprietary version, but we would still have our open version, which would pretty quickly outdistance the proprietary one owing to the advantages of open source development.

Apache, oddly enough, is a great example of the invulnerability of open/free software to conventional corporate attack. When IBM was working their deal with Apache, to include Apache on IBM servers in exchange for enhancements to the Apache NT port (which IBM didn't legally have to do, but did out of good faith), IBM's lawyers had a hell of a time becuase they couldn't figure out who they were signing a contract with- Apache just didn't exist as a legal entity. This led to one suit exclaiming, "You mean, we're signing an agreement with a website?" This same lack of a legal existence means that Apache can never be bought. Nobody can ever own or control it because it doesn't legally exist.

Good idea, if the implementation is serious (1)

blocked (10071) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939973)

Credit is due to OSI for opening up the process, if this is in fact what's going on. But it's important for them to realize the importance of follow-through. If we all get to comment on these prospective licenses and the effect of the commentary is minimal, public comment will inevitably follow in other forums.

So good idea guys, but remember that you are performing a service for the community, and as in any free software project, we'll rate you on how good a job you're doing. Publicly, and without apology.

Rob Levin
Head of Operations, Open Projects

"Open source, open technology, open information"

These guys *are* our friends, after all! (1)

blocked (10071) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939974)

Rik wrote:
Let's not forget that despite our differences that our goals are *much* more in line than they ever could be with, say, Microsoft. We're arguing over fine details here. There's nothing wrong with that, but let's remember that our disagreements are fundamentally friendly, even when the tone isn't.

ESR, Bruce Perens, and RMS are all on the side of free source. Their motivations differ, as does precise details of what they consider appropriate, but their overall positions are still clustered quite tightly.

Agreed that we are on the same side, but that does not relieve anybody the responsibility of "getting it right." In cases where the community feels it is not being represented by prominent people who claim to do so, public noise is going to happen. So if someone claims to representing us, they need to try really hard to get it right, to avoid these problems....

Rob Levin
Head of Operations, Open Projects

"Open source, open technology, open information"

``Things Hackers Detest and Avoid'' (1)

jms (11418) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939975)

Things Hackers Detest and Avoid

IBM mainframes.

Hmmph. Clearly you've never had the opportunity to hack bare iron on a 3090. Much more fun then you would think ...

``Things Hackers Detest and Avoid'' (1)

jms (11418) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939976)

Things Hackers Detest and Avoid

IBM mainframes.

Hmmph. Clearly you've never had the opportunity to hack bare iron on a 3090. Much more fun then you would think ... especially when you get the vector engines chugging

pedant point (1)

Tim Sutherland (11914) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939977)

I was with you until the code. I hope you meant
"#include ","int main","return 0"

Trademark (1)

breser (16790) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939978)

A certification mark [] is just a type of trademark. All they say is that it has been registered not that the registration has been accepted.

If you do a search [] "open source" [] only turns up only when you do a search that shows pending marks.

QPL does this I think. (1)

PolyWog (17122) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939979)

This is beginning to sound shadier and shadier each time i go through the license... definitely not GPL!! 8(

Nobody ever applied for a trademark (1)

MikeTurk (18201) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939980)

Apparently, you are unaware of the fact that a TV is not the future. I agree that the coming convergence will change things, and all of the devices in my home will talk to each other. However, the new-fangled digital TVs of which you speak must connect to something. In my house, it will probably be a server in the closet that provides storage for the terminals (TVs, diskless workstations, even the refrigerator) and connectivity to the outside world (so my TV can get its content, my workstation can have its net connection, and my fridge can reorder my groceries). The question we're focusing on is "What will that server be running?"

Digital TVs will never replace computers. They will just change things.


Well, Mike. Digital TV's will connect to the Net (1)

MikeTurk (18201) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939981)

I guess I shoulda said "TVs will never replace my computer." I would not like to type a paper on a largish screen across the room. And if it is on a small screen, connected to an input device, all attached to a central server, be it next to the screen or in the basement, what's the difference between it and a computer?


Who needs that mailing list?!? "SLML" instead? (1)

Gid1 (23642) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939982)

Well, if the license was hand-coded into this shorthand, then the ambiguities and the parsing issues would be heavily reduced.

The fact that there can be entirely different interpretations of the same license makes me wonder how many of these licenses have been put together properly. This ambiguity is exactly what such a license coding would try to prevent.

Would it be possible to build an expert system which decides on compliance based on these codes?

Good idea, if the implementation is serious (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939983)

Oh, we get to criticize people if they don't do a good job? In public? Without apology? Fine, then I'll tell everyone that the reason the mailing list has been delayed is because you've failed to execute the following commands:

cd /data/org/opensource
chmod -R g+rw .
chgrp -R opensource .

Thank you for your prompt attention to this detail.

OSI, this makes me happy (2)

Matthew Weigel (888) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939984)

Well, on the first point, you better believe it. I am most certainly a) a critic of some of OSI's recent actions and b) a supporter of what I understand OSI to be trying to do.

So I consider it important that I at least try. I've tried actually talking with Richard Stallman and Eric Raymond, and they don't much listen to me (but then, understandably -- I am not a prolific coder, and I have nothing like the years they do on the scene).

And hopefully, if a lot of OSI's 'supporters' and OSI's 'critics' get on the list, it won't be just me, but a lot of people trying to sort these things out.

So people, if you have an interest in keeping the Open Source trademark close to what you believe in, please join!

Multiple Licenses -- this is to evaluate new ones (2)

rlk (1089) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939985)

This doesn't sound like it will be an attempt to allow only certain specific licenses, but rather to evaluate each proposed license to determine whether it meets Open Source standards. So it's more in line with, say, Underwriters Laboratories, which evaluates consumer electrical products to determine that they're safe.

People who want to use licenses that don't meet the requirements are free to do so, but they shouldn't call them Open Source.

Another example of a similar use of trademark that in practice works well is the way foods are marked kosher (acceptable under Jewish law). There are a number of symbols that are used, the most common one being a "U" inside an "O". The Orthodox Union monitors/supervises the production processes for foods to determine if the meet spec, and if they do, they allow the manufacturer to place the "OU" tag on the food. Manufacturers who use the OU symbol that are not under supervision get hauled into court. So the symbol indicates that an independent body has evaluated the food and determined that it meets the requirements.

This, BTW, is why trademarks are one form of "intellectual property" that I consider good in certain circumstances, because it allows people trusted by the community to set standards and evaluate products against those standards.

In the spirit of free source (my "neutral" term), it sounds like the process will be an open one.

Multiple Licenses (2)

EngrBohn (5364) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939986)

On the one hand, I certainly understand and appreciate the concerns that too many free and almost-free licenses will muddy the landscape. Especially if they end up being incompatible, either by accident or design.
But to insist that original developers cannot use a license of their choice -- even one that they make up themselves -- is counter to the developers' freedom. Is limiting the developers' choices any different than Microsoft's efforts to limit users' choices?
Christopher A. Bohn

pedant revision (2)

thinker (7404) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939987)

#include "/usr/include/stdio.h"

int main()

printf("It's the free software, Stupid. \n");
return 0;

Would have posted a diff, but it looked real nasty, as we have no access to the PRE element.
"The Internet interprets censorship as damage,

Good call, OSI (2)

Gromer (9058) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939988)

This has been my one major frustration with the OSI lately. Their closed structure has caused them to apparently miss some important points until it was too late to correct them without losing face. This mailing list is a crucial step towards opening up.

The big questions now are, first, will the OSI's critics join the list, and participate fully in making sure there are no repeats of the ASPL debacle? Secondly, and equally importantly, will the OSI be able to listen to, and act on, the issues that are raised in the list?

This is a wonderful opportunity to begin to reconcile the OSI's proponents and opponents. Let's not blow it. Eric Raymond, Bruce Perens, our eyes are on you. In this community especially, actions speak louder than words.

Reasons for anonymity (2)

RyanGWU82 (19872) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939989)

The choice of anonymizing the companies discussed on the list actually makes a lot of sense to me. Imagine if Microsoft decided it wanted to open-source Windows source code. The discussion would be colored over whether Microsoft and Windows are worthy of the Open Source(tm) definition, not whether the license itself allows for legitimate Open Source(tm) software.

By removing company and product names from the discussion, the discussion will focus on the licensing issues rather than extraneous discussion of company beliefs/actions/etc. I'm all for the idea... as well as the mailing list itself.


Who needs that mailing list?!? "SLML" instead? (2)

Gid1 (23642) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939990)

Hmmm.. As I was saying [] in an earlier /. discussion.. would it be sensible to have a Standardized License Markup Language? =)

In other words, have all the different features and variations of a license represented like the Geek Code, and then be able to derive legalese and informal descriptions from it. Then a parent website which interprets the license for you, and compares it with other licenses.

The web site would also have a 'Build Your Own License' section for software authors.

What would be most useful would be to have a utility which can compare the license to other licenses and requirements, and tells you how they differ/whether they conform.

Question: is it possible to create a simple question tree (expert system) to decide whether a license is Open Source [with capital letters], or GNU [well, GNU-like], etc. ?

If this all could be done, then what's the point in having a mailing list to harumph about whether licenses conform, when you could just go to "", and click on 'Conformity'? =)

License Codes? (2)

Gid1 (23642) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939991)

Yep.. looks like the same idea! =) Having more than one license, all expressed in completely different ways, all expressed in legalese only, is terrible.

Having lots of different licenses expressed in a uniform way, so you can see at a glance what they mean would help a lot, I think.

Mumbleco Corporation's lawyers won't find a standard license which says exactly how they want to license their new Widget Pro(TM) software. So they'll create their own. If they've got the option of doing that, but in a nice clean uniform agreed way, it's a good compromise.

We can't even hope that all the big players will stick to a single license, so let's not bother.

its a start (2)

Znork (31774) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939992)

The only non-viral licenses there are are the BSD type licenses. The 'chameleon' licenses are just as viral as the GPL. The Java license is viral. If you include Suns code your whole work is subject to Suns license, just as if you include GPL code it would be subject to GPL license.

And of course, the 'chameleon' licenses are all mutually exclusive so you'll never be able to combine code in a safe and sane way.

QPL does this I think. (2)

Znork (31774) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939993)

Well, if you use any Qt code in your application. On the other hand, if you didnt use any Qt code and QPL'ed your application, then you would probably hold the right to relicense the code someone else created as a derived work of your code.

The major problem is that as far as I know, the phrase Initial Developer has not been tried in court. It is used to denote the original copyright holder to the oldest included code, but that can rapidly become fuzzy if you include code from other sources.

You also have the difficulty that you cannot revoke an Initial Developership, so you may be in the clear as long as you include code from one other source (altho they retain rights to the code that you will not have), but if you have two different sources where you get code with two different Initial Developers, then you're in a very precarious legal situation. You'll probably end up with an illegal work (since the QPL includes a disclosure clause it would be illegal to even create such a work for private use).

QPL and GPL, both viral, both allow charging. (2)

Znork (31774) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939994)

There is no fundamental difference between the QPL and the GPL, except the QPL retains a tighter control over the software evolution through the patches clause and the disallowing of private use. The QPL is just as viral as the GPL (include QPL licensed code (through patches) and you're subject to the QPL for the rest of the code too, if distributed together) and it does not allow authors to charge for the software any more or less than the GPL (you can buy a separate license from copyright holders in both case).

The QPL is just slightly incompatible with the GPL and it lacks the extensive history and knowledge on its legal effects.

QPL does this I think. (2)

Znork (31774) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939995)

Ah, yes, there's that one too. Theoretically it could be mixed, I think, but you might have to do it by generating patches. The initial developer would probably be the copyright holder to the oldest code included in the project, so if you include code, someone else would probably get the rights to license in any fashion.

Re-read your Friedman (2)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939996)

I'm sure that Milton Friedman is very MUCH in favor of trademarks. Without trademarks, the transaction cost of protecting a reputation is much higher. And reputations are part of what allow free markets to govern in place of politics. -russ
p.s. yes, unions, lobbies and all the rest are indeed bad.

mail to (2)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939997)

Click on the mailto: url in the announcement.

Good idea, if the implementation is serious (2)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939998)

By the way, in case it's not completely obvious, I was being sarcastic. My momma taught me that when someone gives you a gift, you say "thank you", even if it's not perfect, even if it's not quite what you wanted, even if it's perfect for someone not your size, even if it's a total piece of crap that you want to hurl in the garbage, even if the very thought of owning it makes you want to puke. You still say thank you; criticism is completely out of the question; public criticism more so.

So, thanks to, we have a shiny new home with lots of bandwidth, and once we move there, a mailing list manager of some repute.

Impracticality of GPL? Or unmarketability? (2)

Aleris (83142) | more than 15 years ago | (#1939999)

Exactly what "high price" does the GPL come at?

This is what people don't get.. no one is being forced to release GPL code. No one is being forced to *use* GPL code. The *only* thing the GPL does is allow programmers who don't want their code to be commercially exploited, to have an avenue of release.

So what if commercial interests dislike the GPL? GOOD. THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO. THAT MEANS THE GPL IS DOING IT'S JOB.

Rob Warren

Bad approach (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1940000)

On the OSS web page I remember reading about some sort of "branding" program. They are trying to control it all.
Honestly, I don't use the words "open source" any more. Its plain wrong how they have twisted words around to imply they are owners/founders of this movement that has been going on for many years.

The whole idea of "free software" being determined by a "service mark" or having an organisation tell others who is free or not, or who has the right to use certain words, is a contradiction in terms.

However well-meaning some proponents of this may be, this just a step in the direction of certification programs, professional organizations, unions, lobbies, and similar horrors. Read Milton Friedman on the subject.

Anyone interested in applying, defending, or embracing some buzzword or other abstraction is just living in some groups' consensual hallucination. There are only trees... don't try to define what a forest is, who deserves to belong to it, or where the boundaries are.

Bad approach (3)

Aron S-T (3012) | more than 15 years ago | (#1940001)

More and more the Open Source Initiative looks like a group (or should I say an individual) who is trying to wrest control of the free software/GNU-Linux/your moniker here movement, since only THEY (he?) really know what's good for the rest of us.

After ESR blasted those who dared to go public on their criticism of the APSL, and denigrated the intelligence, integrity and maturity of /. commentators, the OSI is obviously trying to create a controlled environment, where only those who are worthy can comment and critique.

Anonymizer? Have they been reading too much Dilbert? Are they afraid of being nuked by Gates? Give me a break. Any company who is not willing to have an OPEN discussion of its OPEN source licence is not really interested in OPENing themselves up to the world. And if so, who cares? Most of us, I'm sure, have better things to do with our time then support a PR campaign of some greedy corporation riding the latest buzzword bandwagon.

In short, the OSI is becoming more marginal and irrelevant the harder it tries to "lead."

Might well be an improvement (3)

Ray Dassen (3291) | more than 15 years ago | (#1940002)

More and more the Open Source Initiative looks like a group (or should I say an individual) who is trying to wrest control of the free software/GNU-Linux/your moniker here movement, since only THEY (he?) really know what's good for the rest of us.

I have not been happy with some of the OSI's actions and with its organisational structure. But I know a potential improvement when I see it. This mailing list is. I urge those interested in free software licensing issues (e.g. the debian-legal subscribers and and readers) to join. License dissemination is best done in the open.

And now that work is done on reorganising SPI [] into an open and democratic organisation (join the spi-general list if you're interested), it will hopefully be able to manage the Open Source mark itself in the not too distant future.

``Things Hackers Detest and Avoid'' (3)

thinker (7404) | more than 15 years ago | (#1940003)

Things Hackers Detest and Avoid

IBM mainframes. Smurfs, Ewoks, and other forms of offensive cuteness. Bureaucracies. Stupid people. Easy listening music. Television (except for cartoons, movies, and "Star Trek" classic). Business suits. Dishonesty. Incompetence. Boredom. COBOL. BASIC. Character-based menu interfaces.

~from The New Hacker's Dictionary [] by You Know Who []

Exercise: Construct a sentence using at least three of the things hackers detest and avoid.


Due to the OSI's
dishonesty and incompetence, stupid people in business suits have taken to associating themselves, their businesses, or their political campaigns with ``open source'', in speeches or writings dripping with offensive cuteness; additionally, they (the OSI) seem to believe an organization, acting in no doubt with the efficiency and effect of most bureaucracies, rubber stamping licenses proffered by corporate lawyers*, is the best way to ensure the widespread use and general quality of free software.

*See Aesop's Fables [] ; specifically, those relating to the Fox.


The quote contained herein is derived from the campaign slogan of the 1992 Democratic party candidates for the presidency of the United States; William Clinton and Albert Gore. It is believed to be in the public domain, and thus derived works do not present any legal problems. If that is not the case, fuck you.

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307, USA.

/* Compile with '-o remember'. Run at least once a day for best results.


printf("It's the free software, Stupid. \n");

"The Internet interprets censorship as damage,

Not likely (3)

Gromer (9058) | more than 15 years ago | (#1940004)

Let's be clear about what is at stake. The OSI is an effort to bring the practicalities, as well as the freedoms, of open-sourced software to the corporate world. In doing so it is trying to make the software world a better place. Who knows whether they will succeed, or are even on the right track. The worst that can happen is that the PHBs sieze on the notion of Open Source, fail to comprehend it and screw up, and move on to the next software fad. The future of Linux, and of free software, is NOT at stake. In other words, we stand to gain if the OSI succeeds, but we do not stand to lose if it fails.

The prospect of Linux, or the free software community in general, selling its soul and becoming corporate or proprietary is nearly impossible. There are several reasons for this.

  • The hobbyist comparison isn't all that relevant. This is completely different from what Gates was doing. Commercialization and popularity are not what made Microsoft a monster. Proprietary code made Microsoft a monster. Gates, by the way, was a major pusher against piracy in the hobbyist community even before Microsoft. Proprietary, un-free code has always been the foundation of his power. Corporations can profit from free sorftware, to be sure, but not in a heavy-handed Microsoft way.
  • The community wouldn't allow it. The fact that so many people have qualms about the road we are taking proves that. If Linux were to ever be subverted from its open and free ideals, all Linux development would immediately come to a halt. The recent growth of Linux regardless, the hacker community is still the heart, soul, and guts of Linux. No corporation has a prayer of keeping Linux vibrant without it. That, after all, is the whole message of the OSI, that open source development is not only more equitable and moral, but more effective.
  • The source is out there. Any attempt to subvert Linux, or any Free/OSS project, and make it proprietary, would fail, because the code is already out there, to be forked and continued openly. Even if somebody could claim ownership, you just can't make several million people delete the code from their computers.
  • The GPL. Above all, the GPL. Because of the GPL, barring some major revolution in copyright law, nobody can ever claim ownership of Linux, Apache, or any other free/OSS project. Nobody can own it, nobody can buy it, nobody can control it, except in the most trivial sense of, for example, Linus owning the name "Linux." The great merit of the GPL is that it ensures that free software will always be free.
The essence of it is, as long as we are here, as long as we want software that works, works well, and doesn't hold us hostage to the whims of corporate bean-counters, and as long as we are willing to work for it, free software and OSS can never lose.

Useing the Open Source Namesake as a selling point (3)

Anonymous Shepherd (17338) | more than 15 years ago | (#1940005)

It's not actually a bad idea or necessarily bad for the OS movement. Let me explain:

It's about market forces where just about everything is driven by financial initiatives, and now Open Source is one of them. There is of course more than just a buzzword with the label. It is a process and philosophy, and if by adopting and co-opting that process and philosophy the company gains, so does Open Source, as a vindication of the processa and a legitamitzation of the concept, that it indeed is workable and useable in the marketplace.

I'm not so sure I can agree with you that there lies a beauty in the elite nature of the movement and its software. I find it hard to envision any justification in which the term elite can be applied in a positive manner. An elite cadre of programmers describes the top notch talent of the programmers. Open Source being elite just seems to be a form of discrimination and arrogance, as it is a philosophy and a practice, not a social standing or ranking.

Open Source's strength and power would not be diluted even if everyone and their brother use the operating system and software associated with Open Source. The concepts and philosophies don't get watered down, don't get diluted by usage, and likewise it's elitist nature doesn't make it powerful. This sounds suspiciously similar to the arguments and rationalizations of devout Mac-heads or OS/2 proponents. Elitism is only justified by actions and respect, not by the trappings and choices you make. Using Linux, driving a Lexus, eating caviar does not make one Elite. Being able to scan and debug assembly in machine code, write 3d engines in a bored afternoon stupor, or surfing the jaws of Hawaii with the best are all examples of being elite.

Open Source should not become an issue of Us vs Them. As a philosophy I can understand the desire to remain unsullied, unpolluted, undesecrated by commercial interests, but it is also a practice and a principle which can be applied, and that any enterprising business would be stupid to just ignore out of hand.


Soapbox Mode (3)

Anonymous Shepherd (17338) | more than 15 years ago | (#1940006)

So I'm not yet a contributor to the movement. I haven't written code, submitted patches, or even run Linux. Despite that I think I believe in the process of Open Source and what they stand for.

Disclaimer out of the way, I'll continue with the rant. Open Source seems to be two things that are tied together by the people involved. A philosophy of sharing, openness, cooperation and interoperability, and a practice of which involves massively distributed parallelism, high turn around and response, self involvment through self interest, and the end result of increased participation and code quality.

I'm sure many businesses could care less about the philosophy while expressing interest in the practice. These are not individuals we are speaking off, but corporate entities with a dedication to output and income. As such they may seek to incorporate the many strengths and benefits of Open Source without changing their own corporate culture, but I really can't see that happening. The process will change them by its very nature.

I would extend an analogy; Open Source is akin to stock options or performance based bonuses, in which an individual's choices and performance are reflected in their rewards. For many the reward can be seen in an excellent sample of code, a working piece of software, the esteem and respect of their peers, or getting their hardware operational. Traditionally non Open Source models used a paycheck as reward for any and all of those; pay an individual to slave away to produce those results. Open Source models would instead substitute more code and more problems as a reward, to be worked on, analyzed, and dissected.

It would seem that in traditional models the reward is the ends, and the work the means. Perhaps in Open Source it is the path and the journey which are the reward, with no real ends in sight. The value of the process is inherent in the process itself, though of course pleasure and happiness exists with a working end product. I suspect that for many involved in Open Source the act of coding and programming is a joy and an ends in of itself, and a working end product merely a beneficial side effect of the process. IE, nature enthusiasts enjoy the hike and the climb as much as the waterfall or cliffs or lake at the end of their journey, if not more.

That being said, I don't see how a company can tap into Open Source and remain closed and proprietary at the same time. If the supporters and contributors don't or can't have access to the final product, they won't know that their contribution means anything at all, or worse yet, if they have to buy the product they contributed, they have to pay just to see the fruits of their labors, if it even got included!

It may seem contradictory to espouse the value of the journey and then speak of the end product, but in any journey one ostensibly has a goal, even if it is never reached or seen. It is the destination one is walking towards, rather than just walking in circles, even as one enjoys and absorbs the value of the journey itself.

This is just an observation of one who is surrounded by OS geeks and nerds(I'm a CS major at Caltech!), by Slashdot, and the chaos that is the www, as well as a sometime student of economics and philosophy...

Comment away!


Useing the Open Source Namesake as a selling point (3)

HighJack (20546) | more than 15 years ago | (#1940007)

Am I the only person who fears that large corporate companies will start to use the Open Source buzzword as selling points? See Microsofts recent blasphemy. The Open Source community used to be a closer knit collection of programmers, althought now it would seem that more and more largre companies, i.e. IBM, Dell, Microsoft, Apple, et. al. are trying to jump on this subcultural bandwagon to benifit themselves financially. The beautity that lies in opensource is it's freedom, also though, an unwritten beauty comes from it's elite nature. The fact that not everyone and their brother uses this magically open source operating system and it's components it what makes it special. I only hope that the acceptance of more and more licensing standards doesn't fractionalize the open source community more, thereby dividing the power it has. I think we need to keep these big companies, who probably don't see the ideals behind OSS out of our game. There is fewer recorded benifits from commercialization of things like OSS than there are from letting the community continue on it's own. In the up coming months the OSS community is going to see a larger and larger acceptance among Industry. Many people see this as a light at the end of the tunnel. But remember that Microsoft's products were once a hobbiest style software, and where are they now that commericialization and popularity are on their side? Is this the same course that we want GNU/Linux to take? I would rather it remain quality and not in the mainstream than to sell out for popularity.

Just my worthless meandering.

Archive and subscription confirmation (3)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 15 years ago | (#1940008)

There is no public archive (yet), and there is no subscription confirmation (yet). We have some ducks which still need lining up. In the meantime, you'll be on the list if you've sent mail to the -subscribe address.

I guess they do listen (4)

JamesHenstridge (14875) | more than 15 years ago | (#1940009)

This idea had been posted by a number of people on slashdot, so it is good to see that the people at OSI do listen to the community. If nothing else, this shows good will (something that was required -- it was almost at the stage where portions of the community had no support for OSI).

Now OSI needs to follow up on this, and actually listen to and participate on this open list. If this list is not used by OSI in the decision making process, the list gives the community nothing. Only time will tell how successful this move is.

If OSI respects the opinions of people on the list, the actions of OSI and the process by which licences are approved will be much closer to the open model some people wanted for OSI from the start.

The idea of having anonymity for the companies proposing licences is good for two reasons. First it will allow companies thinking about releasing source code to keep their internal decisions private until they want to tell people about it. Also it should make list members more objective about what they are reviewing (would you be more critical of a new proposed open source licence from Microsoft or one from companies you may consider friendly like Netscape or Cygnus?).

The other thing needed for this list to succeed in its goal is for the right people to subscribe (this means both ESR and Bruce Perens among others -- I hope they can stay civil).
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