: On Thu, 6 May 2004, Ian Lance Taylor wrote:
: > > I don't understand why there are so many licenses, if the
: > > open-source specification is so rigid.
: >
: > I don't really understand it either.  I mean, I know how we got here
: > step by step, but looking at the situation now it doesn't make much
: > sense.
: The license is supposed to be a legal document. Legal concepts (e.g.,
: public domain or software license), default warranties (that we have
: to disclaim), and tricks to get around legal licensing limitations
: (e.g., patents) change all the time. Thus, the number of licenses
: submitted for OSI approval will probably continue to grow.
: One alternative is what Creative Commons are trying to do. They
: control creation of licenses and, hence, are able to limit their
: growth (and variety) with a simple, common-sense-based interface.

I agree that CC has an elegant solution to the problem they are trying to
fix. I predict that you will see more licenses added to CC's website, but,
perhaps, not as many as we see on this list.  License proliferation in open
source (and free software) is a problem, but in the software context,
innovative business models, differing business goals and wide-ranging
business values inevitably lead to unique licensing needs. The activities on
this very list provide abundant evidence that folks are frequently coming up
with interesting and different development goals that often cannot be
shoe-horned into a preexisting license. In this light, approved licenses
should primarily serve as templates for new drafters.

On the other hand, you might say that OSI could crush some of that
innovation and force folks to squeeze their business and development
objectives not only into conformity with the OSD, but into the language of
one license chosen from a limited list of licenses.  Is that what some are

I think that both the methods used by OSI and the alternative used by CC
come with advantages and disadvantages.  But, in my opinion, the principle
that developers ought to be able to draft their own open source license
(within the bounds of the OSD) is too important to throw out. I support what
CC is doing, but the method they have chosen and the licenses they produce
for users of their website seem a little too close to the practice of law
(or, the creation of an attorney-client relationship) - - and all of what
that entails. And, I still have significant reservations about the use of
text open source licenses online.

Having said that, I agree that a common-sense drafter-friendly interface of
some of the different TYPES of open source licenses is a good idea.

: > Sources which may not be distributed are not open source.  I
: > strongly suggest that you not use that term.
: ... on this mailing list which is OSI-specific and uses OSI-specific
: terminology.
: Alex.

- Rod

Rod Dixon
Blog: http://opensource.cyberspaces.org

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