Start date: January 2017

Working Group Chair: Patrick Masson

Working Group Sponsor: Patrick Masson

OSI General Manager: Patrick Masson

Initial members: Patrick Masson


After the various issues with crowd funding campaigns mis-informing the public related to the development/use of open source software (Anonabox and Jolla Tablet), a small/simple survey was undertaken on December 2014. The survey queried Kickstarter & Indiegogo on 12/20/2014...

Kickstarter search: Show me “Software” projects on “Earth” tagged with “#Open source” sorted by “newest”
Indiegogo: Search results for ""open source"" in "Technology"
Indiegogo: Search results for ""open source" "software"" in "Technology"
Indiegogo: Search results for ""open source"" "software"" in "Technology", "75% - 100+%"

...and found 85 projects asking for support in the development of "open source" or "open source software." The total fund-raising goal for all 85 projects was $5,086,090, the total committed was $6,664,242. Of these 85 projects, 46 carried OSI Approved Open Source Licenses and 39 carried either none, or some other license (e.g. CC-BY-SA)—one was even proprietary. These 39 open-washing / fauxpen projects were seeking $2,397,050 and raised, $2,967,167 from almost 30,000 contributors (file attached).

While the above examples and sample data are limited, the OSI though this working group can engage with the broader open source community, as part of the OSI's mandate to protect open source while affirm the OSI's role as the stewards of the Open Source Definition. Such work would also help distinguish the OSI among those new to the open source software community, who may be unfamiliar with the organization's purpose and value: educating individuals, companies and other organizations about what open source software is, how it is licensed and how to assess authenticity.

Working Group Mission

  • The working group will work with crowd-funding sites to raise awareness, develop policy and instill good practice to address, the ambiguity in, or mis-representation of projects seeking funding for projects promoted as open source software.
  • The working group will also reach out to the technology media (letters to editors, comments to articles, original posts, etc.) explaining the issue and suggested approaches to help the press and general public understand the importance of and assess authenticity before promoting projects.
  • The working group will promote this activity within the open source community as it highlights the OSI's value in promoting and protecting open source software licensing and development.

Alignment to OSI Mission

Education: Provides information and resources for three sectors of the open source software community: developers, how to authentically license and promote open source software; contributors, how to assess claims made by projects reporting to develop open source software; technology media, how to accurately describe and fact check open source software licenses in reporting.

Protect: Authenticity in open source software projects promotes OSI Approved Licenses and the freedoms of the Open Source Definition. Ambiguity, mis-perception and deception threaten the integrity and reputation of the label "open source" and "open source software" reducing the trust in the OSD and the OSI by the public.


The group will primarily communicate via the working group wiki page and related discussion forum.

If you have questions about the group, please contact Patrick Masson, the working group chair and sponsor.


  • Use of the OSI wiki to document our work and communicate through development.
  • Communications through OSI channels (press releases, blog posts, tweets, etc.) related to the working group's activities.


  1. Press release explaining the OSI sponsored initiative.
  2. Open letters to the media requesting increased fact checking and suggestions for referencing open source software projects.
  3. Recommendations for crowd-funding sites for the assessment of projects they host that invoke "open source," "open source software" and related terms. (e.g. "[project name] is an open source project released under the [license name]")
  4. Agreements with multiple crowd-funding sites to develop policy and good practice when invoking "open source," "open source software" and related terms in the projects they host (e.g. worksheet to earn OSI badge).
  5. Reference materials for those interested in supporting projects through crowd-funding to assess the authenticity of claims. (e.g. "Open-by-rule Benchmark, OSS Watch, Openness Index, etc.)

Target Completion Date

  1. Call for participants: February 1, 2015
  2. "OSI Recommendations for the Use of the Label, Open Source Software in Crowd-funding": March 1, 2015
  3. Introduction to audience (Crowd-funding sites, Tech Media, open source community: April 1, 2015
  4. Agreements with / responses to audience interest / participation: May 1, 2015

Ongoing OSI Support

It is expected that once the resources have been developed, distributed and implemented no further work will be needed. The OSI and/or this working group may choose to revisit and update the resources based on developments through time.

Project Page

Ongoing work is undertaken on the Practices in Open Source Software Crowd-funding project page.

Created by Patrick Masson on 2015/01/08 16:44

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