[Linux-aus] Who defines Open Source?

Martin Pool mbp at sourcefrog.net
Wed Feb 8 08:01:02 UTC 2006

On  8 Feb 2006, Avi Miller <avi.miller at squiz.net> wrote:
> Hey gang,
> Squiz is internally discussing various alternative licensing options for 
> our flagship product (MySource Matrix). I'd like to beef up my personal 
> argument (i.e. using a known Open Source licence) but I need some 
> additional information.
> Question: Who is responsible for defining what Open Source actually is? 
> Following from that, are the OSI the only organisation capable of 
> determining whether or not a licence is Open Source?
> Essentially, I'm trying to determine who (or what) determines whether or 
> not a licence is Open Source or not.

People tend to listen to the definitions and assessments of three main
bodies: the Free Software Foundation, Debian, and the Open Source
Initiative -- not necessarily in that order.  Which one you give most
weight to is a personal judgement, but in the end it does not matter a
great deal because they agree much more than they disagree.  (As someone
pointed out, the opensource.org definition is the Debian definition
minus references to Debian.)

The FSF talk about "free software" rather than "open source"; the terms
have different connotations but as far as choosing a licence I think the
advice is equally valid.

The definitions are


Fairly few licences will pass one but not the other.

You should read some of these


One thing they do agree upon is that it is generally much better for all
concerned for open source projects to use a standard licence than to
make up another new one.  



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