[Linux-aus] Re: Squiz.net Open Source License - is it free?

Martin Pool mbp at sourcefrog.net
Mon Feb 6 09:42:10 UTC 2006

On  5 Feb 2006, Del <del at babel.com.au> wrote:
> Andrew Donnellan wrote:
> >Another analysis with more explanation.
> >
> >I have asked FSF and their response was clearly non-free.
> That response may or may not be more useful than the discussion
> on the debian-legal list, however I don't find that discussion
> useful.  The arbitrators of open source licenses are the OSI,
> not the Debian team nor the FSF.  

The OSI have no de jure authority to decide what is open source or not.
They simply have an *opinion*, as does the FSF, Debian, Microsoft, or
anyone else.  It is up to the reader to decide whose
judgement/ethics/reputation they trust.

We could have a discussion about their past performance and which is
most reliable or otherwise preferable, but that's a different question.
Personally I give the FSF's assessment a great deal of weight.

It seems OSI are no longer claiming a trademark on the phrase "open
source".  OSI do have the exclusive legal right to decide whether or not
something is "OSI Certified open source" (tm).  I could start labelling
things "mbp certified open source(tm)" if I wanted.  There's nothing
wrong with arrogating authority -- open source works that way all the
time -- but let's be clear that's all they are.

> Remember that the debian-legal team only discuss one distribution of
> Linux, and the FSF only promote one (GPL) of the many free software
> licenses.

This is not really true.  The FSF primarily recommends the GNU GPL, but
they recommend others for particular circumstances.  In any case I don't
see why that reduces their credibility to evaluate other licences.

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