[PROPOSAL] Open Source certification

bruce at perens.com bruce at perens.com
Sat Apr 10 06:46:21 UTC 1999

From: Havoc Pennington <rhp at zirx.pair.com>
> But there was *also* an open, public process.

You are correct. In the case of Netscape, there was a private consultation
followed by the publication of a clearly-labeled prototype license which
was _not_ labeled Open Source, even though it was within the terms of the
OSD, followed by a public consultation.

> New licenses should be discouraged, and requiring a public discussion
> period is one way to do that (while also ensuring the legitimacy of any
> that are created, and the harmony of the community).


I think there's a bigger issue here, and one much more difficult to solve
than simply going through a public consultation.
The odious portions of the IBM and Apple licenses are mostly designed for
liability protection for the deep-pockets defendant in the face of patent
litigation and munitions export prosecution. Unfortunately, acceptance of
that protection puts us in the position of strengthening the grip of software
patent law and export restrictions on free software. It's not at all clear to
me that we can provide the corporation with liability protection in a license
_and_ have free software from the same license. About the only solution I can
see is for the corporation to grant a non-exclusive copyright to the software
to a non-profit organization like FSF or SPI that will take charge of the
software's free distribution and stand as owner in the case of a lawsuit or
prosecution, shielding the corporation from that liability.

There's the question of who makes up the public in a public consultation.
In the case of Apple, the Macintosh user community is still large (compared
to us), they have little understanding of free software licensing, and their
attitude seems to be "let's not look a gift-horse in the mouth". I guess
they've never heard of Trojan horses. That attitude could have bad
consequences for the free software community that is liable to be stuck with
bad licenses if it is followed. How to we keep our voices from being
overwhelmed by outsiders?



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