The OSI as custodian of the Open Source Definition, plays a key role in keeping license proliferation in check.  As technology expands into open hardware and the use of data sets to train software, we’re going to be seeing more new licenses emerge.    Keeping the OSI a strong and trusted authority to help the wider open source community navigate which licenses really are “open” is going to become even more important in the years to come.  In the last year we’ve seen attempts to label licenses “open” that clearly aren’t.   

Key areas I’d like to see focus on improving:

  1. Celebrate and promote the new licenses that meet the OSD as they become available,  so they become easily accessible defaults and supported by automation from the start. 
  2. Work with OSI legal community and industry to come to a common understanding of the obligations associated with OSI licenses,  so automation of the obligations can occur.
  3. Expand OSI membership ( government representatives, academia,  foundations,  corporations and individuals) the wider the reach and support - the better!

Who Am I?

I first started working directly with the OSI,  when the OSI agreed to adopt the SPDX license identifiers to represent the licenses that matched the OSD, but was a quiet fan before then.    By having a definitive set of licenses,  and ways of encoding them in a standard fashion, we can move the ecosystem towards license compliance automation,  which I care passionately about after having done way too much manual license detection work in my career.    

With over 30 years of experience in compliers and embedded computing,  I’ve seen first hand the problems that companies go through trying to “do the right thing”, and respect the licenses.   Automating the obligations, rather than relying on manual efforts, is key to improving license compliance.  The OSI is already home to a trusted set of curated licenses,  and is an ideal organization to foster a curated and clear understanding of obligations associated with open source licenses.

Created by Patrick Masson on 2019.02.26 at 12:57:51 PST

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