Open-Source Referees Change the Rules

 
 
By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2005-04-07 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"The day of the open-source license as tribal flag or corporate monument will have to come to a close," the Open Source Initiative's board says about its new guidelines on granting new licenses and classifying existing ones.

The Open Source Initiative board on Wednesday adopted a new way of approving open-source licenses, as well as a new classification system for existing licensees, at its meeting at the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco.

The OSI (Open Source Initiative) is the organization that approves open-source licenses. While its blessing is not necessary in any legalistic way, few if any companies or developers would use a so-called open-source license without the OSIs blessing.

"License proliferation has become a significant barrier to open-source deployment," the group declares in its "License Proliferation" document, a copy of which was obtained by eWEEK.com prior to its publication.
From now on, the group says, "Approved licenses must meet three new criteria of being a) nonduplicative, b) clear and understandable, and c) reusable."

Additionally, the Open Source Initiative says it "will be moving to a three-tier system in which licenses are classified as preferred, approved or deprecated."

"The class of asymmetrical, corporate licenses that began with Mozilla was a worthy experiment that has failed. The new policy will discourage them," the group says.

Many companies, such as Sun Microsystems Inc. with its controversial CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License), have used the Mozilla license to create their own. Critics have pointed out, and Sun admits, that the CDDL is not compatible with the GPL (GNU General Public License), which is the legal foundation of Linux and many other major open-source projects.

To prevent this kind of conflict between licenses, the group is explicitly stating that one of the new policys goals "will be to promote unrestricted reusability of code."

But the OSI board will not be making the call on its own on which new licenses will be approved. The group "has designed a public-comment process to include community stakeholders in grading licenses."

The organization is still working on the details of exactly how this process will work, according to sources close to the board.

Next Page: Too many open-source licenses?



 
 
 
 
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
 
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters























 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thanks for your registration, follow us on our social networks to keep up-to-date
Rocket Fuel