[PROPOSAL] Open Source certification

Joseph Carter knghtbrd at debian.org
Tue Mar 30 17:05:56 UTC 1999

A lot of people have been saying this and I am now taking it upon myself
to make as official a proposal as I possibly can.  Yes, it's long. 
If you want to flame me for the length, do it in private (this means you
Branden...  =>)

On Mon, Mar 29, 1999 at 03:38:03PM -0500, Chip Salzenberg wrote:
> According to Raul Miller:
> > The problem is that if anyone bases their decision based on Open Source
> > certification they'll find themselves up a creek when they hit the
> > license revocation conditions.  If they can hit those conditions without
> > doing anything unreasonable, they've had their trust betrayed.
> The OSI retains the privilege to decide which licenses meet the OSD in
> our best judgement.  Something that expires the next day isn't going
> to pass, because it clearly opposes the OSD's intent.
> This isn't at all the same as a provision that's irksome but true to
> the ideal of openness, a la BSD's advertising or Apple's reporting.

I formally propose that SPI step in and take control of its intellectual
property.  At the moment OSI does seem to retain the privilege outlined
above even though the SPI board and most of those in SPI's affiliated
projects seem very unhappy with OSI's management.

So far I can name two such instances in which non-free licenses are being
called Open Source.  The first is Apple's license, which has been
discussed to death by now I'm certain.  OSI has directly claimed this
license to be Open Source---something which not only SPI but Debian and
Bruce Perens as well say does not meet the letter of the Open Source
Definition, much less the spirit.

The other real recent example may or may not have been directly endorsed
by OSI---I don't know for certain.  The bitkeeper license is NOT Open
Source, het it has been called such.  OSI should have by this time done
something about this.  If they have, I can't find anything about it.

And, as we know in the case of Apple's license, Eric Raymond has
responded to the joint statement issued by SPI, Debian, and Bruce
essentially saying it was his opinion that the Apple license was Open
Source and that was that.  Supposedly anything that was Open Source was
suitable for Debian's main distribution because of the direct
relationship between the Debian Free Software Guidelines and the Open
Source Definition.  The Apple license is the first major case in which
a license has been declared Open Source which fails the DFSG.

The story could end there, but it need not.  SPI still owns the Open
Source service mark.  OSI has been given authority to manage the mark.  I
propose SPI revoke that permission and send a cease and desist letter to
OSI immediately.  If OSI is not willing to accept the Open Source
Definition and the oppinions of a large number (perhaps even a large
majority) of the community when making its determination, then obviously
neither of these things truly matter to them.

I propose we stop this madness right now, once and for all.  Eric Raymond
didn't invent Free Software, he didn't even invent the suit-friendly
label for it "Open Source".  He did CatB and got a fair amount of support
for the paper.  My opinion (purely my own but shared by more than a
couple I am certain) is that Eric has let his ego guide his actions of
late.  My signature (I swear this thing is psychic!) demonstrates the
problem clearly.  Eric is more interested in software that doesn't suck
than the Free Software principles of the Open Source Definition.

Eric has indicated he wants to go back to his family and normal life. 
Family is important.  It's clear to me after reading a short comment from
Bruce (uncharacteristically short!  *ducks*) and thinking about it
overnight that he's right.  This job Eric has been trying to fill is too
big for one person to handle on their own.  Let's take the burden off his
back and distribute it evenly among those we believe will represent us
best.  Preferably these people should understand both companies' need to
profit and willingness to support Open Source IFF it is profitable and
the needs of the community to have quality Free Software.

Joseph Carter <knghtbrd at debian.org>            Debian GNU/Linux developer
PGP: E8D68481E3A8BB77 8EE22996C9445FBE            The Source Comes First!
Eric Raymond:  I want to live in a world where software doesn't suck.

Richard Stallman:  Any software that isn't free sucks.

Linus Torvalds:  I'm interested in free beer.

Richard Stallman:  That's okay, as long as I don't have to drink it.  I
don't like beer.
        -- LinuxWorld Expo panel, 4 March 1999
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