Open Source Initiative Adds New Blood

After dealing with a change in leadership, the OSI has, as promised, expanded its board, and some board members say they are planning to cut back on the number of open-source licenses.

On April 1, the Open Source Initiative quietly made its good on its promise to expand its boards membership, both in general and by adding members from outside the United States.

Danese Cooper, a former Sun Microsystems Inc. open-source advocate who is now employed by Intel Corp. in a similar capacity and is secretary/treasurer for the OSI (Open Source Initiative), announced that the group has added five new members to its board.

These new board members are: Ken Coar of the Apache Software Foundation; Chris DiBona, Googles open-source program manager; Bruno Peres Ferreira de Souza, a well-known Brazilian Java developer; Rishab Aiyer Ghosh, a noted Indian technology journalist and researcher based in the Netherlands; Sanjiva Weerawarana, a former IBM Research computer scientist from Sri Lanka; and Joichi Ito, a Japanese-American entrepreneur and venture capitalist who has been one of the leaders of the blog movement.

Eric Raymond, cofounder and president emeritus of the OSI, said he believes this new blood will do well for the organization.

"One of the traps awaiting social change movements, religions and advocacy organizations like OSI is that they often fail to mature into genuine institutions—that is, they remain too dependent on the personality and charisma of founding members. What were seeing now is OSI successfully making that difficult transition," Raymond said.

Remaining on the board are Cooper, president pro tem Michael Tiemann, who is Red Hat Inc.s vice president of open source, and former OSI president Russ Nelson.

Nelson resigned as OSI president under pressure from other open-source organizations because of concerns about what one of his critics described as "his racism and fringe economic theories [that] were endangering the mission of the OSI."

With this controversy behind it, the OSI is moving forward. While the board hasnt stated what its new objectives will be, both Cooper and DiBona make it clear that cutting back on the volume of open-source licenses is on their personal agendas.

DiBona wrote in his blog that one of his two goals for the OSI is "reducing the number of licenses that are considered Open Source."

Cooper attributes the profusion of open-source licenses to the organizations history of approving "vanity licenses because [the companies] complied with the OSD, knowing that the effect of all those vanity licenses would be not much license reuse (why use the Apples license if you are IBM for instance) and not much true community around those vanity projects."

The OSI did this, Cooper said, because, "We were trying to get more businesses to participate [in open source]! And participate they have. Unfortunately nearly all of the large organizations who wanted to participate also wanted a vanity license."

Cooper said his hope is that more companies and organizations will follow Intel Corp., which recently withdrew its own open-source license, the Intel Open Source License, and get rid of their vanity licenses.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols opinion column about Intels decision to request that its Intel Open Source License be removed from use.

With this, and other changes in how people are viewing open-source licenses, "well have better luck convincing them to re-use one of the existing template licenses instead of authoring their own. What would be really cool is if the folks got it together to create an improved and templatized MPL v2 so that everyone could agree on a definitive expression of most imitated open source licensing model," Cooper said.

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