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Charting a Course for 2020 and Beyond

Mon, 2020-06-01 12:26

This is an interesting time for open source.

An approach to intellectual property that was once seen as radical is now mainstream. In 2011, 13 years after "open source" was coined and the Open Source Initiative was founded to promote and protect it, O'Reilly Media declared that open source had won. In 2016, WIRED followed suit. Now, open source undergirds software development across a truly unfathomable range of applications and fans the flames of other open culture movements. It has inspired new ways of collaborating with each other, experiments in community governance, and has been so successful that it is colloquially taken to mean all of the above.

And yet, open source feels so tenuous sometimes. Questions dog us. Setting aside run-of-the-mill fear, uncertainty, and doubt, people are raising legitimate questions: are our projects sustainable? Are our communities safe and healthy? Are maintainers being treated fairly? Is our work just? Can open source weather continued attempts at redefinition?

These concerns are not new, but the scale they're playing out on is. And Open Source Initiative--though it has sustained its core mission around licensing for 22 years, slogging through the legal janitorial work that makes open source adoption easy--has simply not been a leading voice in these other conversations.

Even on the topic of licensing, OSI has been found on its backfoot. Our response to the recent flare ups of open core and source available licensing was lackluster. Everyone agrees: open source needs a bolder, more responsive, and representative OSI.

How do we get there? We have a plan, and you're part of it.

A Short Take on the Long Road to Now

The key to understanding how we move forward is to first remember how we got here. OSI as we know it didn't exist until 2013. 

Founded in 1998, the organization was held together in its first decade through strong board leadership in Michael Tiemann (2001-2012) and Danese Cooper (2002-2011). Deb Bryant (2012-present), Karl Fogel (2011-2014), Mike Milinkovich (2012-2018), and Simon Phipps (2010-2020) helped OSI begin professionalizing, by hiring General Manager Patrick Masson (2013-present), and becoming more democratic, with the introduction of a community-elected board. Molly de Blanc (2016-2020), Allison Randal (2014-2019), and Stefano “Zack” Zacchiroli (2014-2017) fostered better ties with the free software community. Richard Fontana (2013-2019) elevated legal discussions, taking OSI’s licensing work from knowledgeable hackers to expert practitioners and defining a review process. And Pam Chestek (2019-present) has brought a new level of professionalism to the license review process.

This is a reductionist and inevitably incomplete view of OSI’s history, but the point is this: OSI has come a long way, and I am forever grateful to the talented and generous individuals who collectively invested decades to get us here.

Over the last seven years, OSI has: sustained its core mission, shaped policy around the globe, worked tirelessly to mitigate open washing, built an alliance of more than 125 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of people, provided a home for projects like ClearlyDefined, and rolled out programs like FLOSS Desktops for Kids and Open Source Technology Management courses with Brandeis University.

We have seen incremental progress every year. OSI has expanded its programs and refined its operations. The trouble is, our operational capacity has not kept pace with the growing responsibility.

What Comes Next

Two years ago, the OSI Board recognized the need for another transformation, and made staffing the organization a priority. Pursuing that has required us to shave a great number of yaks! Along the way, we've identified several other key changes, all of which are reflected in our Annual Initiatives and the efforts our Committees have in flight.

In broad strokes, we have deep organizational development work to do (more on that later) as well as community engagement initiatives including:

  • Create more opportunities for people to make their voices heard and get involved with the process, by convening Working Groups and Advisory Boards to work in concert with our Committees.
  • Develop a communications plan and capabilities in order to be responsive to community developments, as well as lead and facilitate emerging conversations.
  • Invest in an updated Code of Conduct and moderation tools.
  • Continue investing in documentation in service of transparency.
  • Continue targeted recruitment in service of representation.
  • Hire people to serve as Community and Communications Manager supporting this work.

Suffice it to say, we have our work cut out for us!

Well That Sounds Promising

The good news is that OSI has never been in a better position than it is now. We have all the right players on all the right bases. We're more organized than ever. And an intense period in the spotlight has brought the work we need to do into sharp focus.

The bad news is that we only have 5 months operating budget in reserve, thus lack the funding to hire additional staff... And we're likely to suffer a 20-40% drop in revenue due to the pandemic and resulting economic downturn.

Your Role In This

This is where you come in. We need your voice to make sure we plot a path forward that meets your needs, and we need your support to fund the work ahead.

We'll be sharing about new opportunities to make your voice heard as this work unfolds, but you can always reach us on social media, IRC, and directly via our mailing lists or contact form. And the OSI Board, being community-elected, is chock full of people whose job it is to serve you--you can always reach out to us individually.

If you are not yet an Individual Member, we ask you to become one, which will keep you apprised of our work and allow you to vote in our annual elections, or even nominate yourself.

If you lead a nonprofit organization or community that believes in open source, we encourage you to become an Affiliate Member, which helps us provide mutual support and allows you to nominate and vote in elections.

And if your company relies on open source to conduct business, we ask that you invest back into the community that makes your work possible by becoming a Corporate Sponsor.

Together, we'll make sure that open source continues to thrive.

With gratitude,

Josh Simmons
Open Source Initiative

Image credit: "charting-a-course.jpg" by Open Source Initiative, 2020, CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication, is a derivative (cropped and scaled) of "Compass, 11 September 2006" a photo by Adam Levine, available under CC0, via Flickr.

Categories: FLOSS Research

January 2020 License-Review Summary

Fri, 2020-05-15 13:57

License-Review mailing list topics for January 2020:

  • Continued discussion on the Mulan PSL V2
  • Continued discussion on the Cryptographic Autonomy License (Beta 4)
  • Resolution of the Vaccine License – Not Approved
  • Continued discussion on the BSD-1-Clause [Legacy]
  • Resolution of the CasperLabs Open Source License (COSL) – Considered Withdrawn

Continued discussion on the Mulan PSL V2

Suggested improvements to the text in the license in around grammar, clarity of intentions, and legal matters

Revised license submission

Continued discussion on the Cryptographic Autonomy License (Beta 4)

Questions on the license use, promulgation, and contributions

Issue regarding proprietary relicensing seemingly being the primary use case

Questions with regards to OSD compliance and user freedom, as well as further viewpoints and considerations with regards to data exportability

Statement that it is OSD compliant and that arguments against it are too situation-specific

Resolution of the Vaccine License – Not Approved

Decision that the Vaccine License does not conform to the OSD, specifically OSD 5 regarding user discrimination, and does not assure user freedom.

Continued discussion on the BSD-1-Clause [Legacy]

Argument that all that use the license should just be relicensed under the BSD License since multiple identical licenses hinders freedom due to their costs

Clarification that as a legacy submission, the submitter has no power over the license and that there are significant logistical issues with regards to push a change

Resolution of the CasperLabs Open Source License (COSL) – Considered Withdrawn

Decision that the license is considered withdrawn due to non-responsiveness and the criticisms that were brought up

Categories: FLOSS Research

January 2020 License-Discuss Summary

Thu, 2020-05-14 20:11

License-Discuss mailing list topics for January 2020:

  • Dual Licensing
  • Copyright on APIs
  • Decision process regarding license review submissions
  • AGPL evaluation and real-world license testing
  • ZFS Kernel Code on Linux

Dual Licensing

Centralizing copyright licensing and not centralizing copyrights themselves

Single entity open source business model

Copyright on APIs

Doubt on article assumptions due to machine-readable interface description in the source code

Decision process regarding license review submissions

Suggestion to postpone OSI evaluation of new licenses until after some time of practical use

The role of the OSI and defining norms

Writing down all rules would be divisive and further enable bad actors

Postponing evaluation means ignoring and that the current OSI certification process is fine and shouldn’t be changed because of one license being reviewed. Introduce retiring licenses or have a category of "open source but not recommended."

It is undesirable to have the OSI determine which licenses are better than others

Concern with interim naming of a license while it is in use but before OSI evaluation

AGPL evaluation and real-world license testing

Copyleft-next is engaging in a public drafting process

ZFS Kernel Code on Linux

Categories: FLOSS Research

Work for Hire could be Limiting You, Your Company, and Open Source.

Wed, 2020-05-13 20:55

My business partner, Amanda Nystrom, and I have been operating in the Full Stack Postgres market for well over 20 years. During this time we have learned quite a few things that have positioned us as a premier service provider in North America for all things Postgres.

All companies go through phases on how to conduct business. The market is always fluctuating and as they say, “adapt or die.” In an effort to help build the professional community and the people behind the company curtain, we wanted to share a tip that has worked well for us and should be considered by all open source companies.

Do not engage as “work for hire”

As an OSI contributor and long time open source advocate, my intent is to explain why working for hire could be limiting your company and yourself. I also hope to encourage others in the community to choose a strategy of consulting or paid-for development that is beneficial to all.

What is work for hire?

“Work for hire” [1] is often misunderstood and sometimes confused with “right-to-work” or “right-to-hire” labor laws. Work for hire is specifically related to copyright law in the United States.

The United States copyright office defines work for hire as:

  • work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment


  • a work specially ordered or commissioned for use
    • as a contribution to a collective work,
    • as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work,
    • as a translation,
    • as a supplementary work,
    • as a compilation,
    • as an instructional text,
    • as a test,
    • as answer material for a test, or
    • as an atlas
  • if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire.

For our discussion here, we are not including work as prepared by an employee. If you are an employee, then you are compensated as an employee and the end result product is owned by your employer.

Instead, we are discussing work that is specially ordered or commissioned for use. For example, a custom script to back up a PostgreSQL database or an application to insert PDFs created by the Linux printing system CUPS into a PostgreSQL database or a recommendation document based on findings.

Confidentiality and Trade Secrets

There is nothing within this discussion that endorses sharing confidential information or trade secrets. Confidential information and trade secrets are absolutely the property of your client, whether it was your brain trust that delivered that information or not. We are only discussing a work product that is of mutual interest.

Know Your Value

Any good consultant has information that a client doesn’t have. That is why they hired the consultant; to receive expert advice on how to achieve their goals. However, that information is largely public knowledge or accessible to anyone who wishes to do the research and work themselves. However, they are hiring you because you are an expert in your field and you can achieve the results they are seeking, theoretically, at a lower cost, and more quickly, than hiring a team of employees to conduct the same work.

As a consultant where your time is your most valuable asset, you do not want to reinvent the wheel. You want and need a toolbox of utilities, tutorials, best practices, documentation, and white papers that you can easily modify to suit your next client’s needs. If you are contractually limited by “work for hire,” the previous client controls the work products and outputs that could be in your toolbox for the mutual benefit of all parties involved.

Why not work for hire?

In the simplest explanation, work for hire removes your rights as the author of original work, stopping you from reusing that work. It is antithetical to the idea of open source and to the idea of mutual good.


  • you may lose rights to your brain-trust,
  • you can not reuse work (even if anonymized) from one client for the benefit of another,
  • you must reinvent the wheel for similar tasks, and
  • you are essentially an employee with consultant risk and no employee benefit.

Too often consultants are taken advantage of by companies and the attorney-budget of those companies. We have seen Master Service Agreements that literally removed all rights as a consultant and made the consultant an employee without providing the benefits of employment. We have observed intellectual property clauses that assigned Prior Intellectual Property Rights to the client. The most common modification is a change of legal venue to benefit the company that resides across the country or an unwillingness to pay collection and attorney fees should the client not pay its invoices.

If you are a professional consultant or developer for open source technologies, it is imperative you consider that your business practices also support the ideals that make open source great. A fundamental value of open source is that any development work that benefits the many should not sacrifice benefits for the producers. Open source allows you to build a culture within your ideals that will bring a higher value for you, your employees, and the community at large.

1. Works Made for Hire

About the Author: Joshua D. Drake is co-founder of Command Prompt, Inc., and a long time supporter of open source, dating back to the days of the SLS Linux distribution. He is the Founder of United States PostgreSQL, a former SPI Director, an OSI Member, and a leader among the non-profit People, Postgres, Data community. The People, Postgres, Data community focuses on the professional development of People through the use of Postgres and Data.

Image credit: "WorkForHire.png" by Open Source Initiative, 2020 (CC BY-SA 3.0), is a derivative (cropped, scaled, and color adjusted) of "Barclays Cycle Hire, St. Mary Axe, Aldgate.jpg" by Colin, (CC BY-SA 3.0), via Wikimedia Commons.

Categories: FLOSS Research

Committing to Community throughout the COVID-19 Crisis

Thu, 2020-04-30 16:46

Each year the Open Source Initiative relies on the dedicated contributions of individual open source developers and advocates, OSI members, and corporate sponsors. This year, with the global pandemic now affecting so many communities, funding priorities have rightly changed: new initiatives that need dedicated support have emerged, yet many fundamental organizations still need continued support to deliver core services.

Each year the OSI attends over 20 events to meet with sponsors and secure annual funding. With so many events now canceled, our primary channel for fundraising and development has simply disappeared. We recognize many organizations may be struggling themselves and unable to contribute. Individuals too are facing unprecedented pressures, facing professional uncertainties and personal loss.

Yet in one way--perhaps small, but not insignificant--the Open Source Software movement and community is both inspired and inspiring. The Open Source Software community has come together to collaborate, contribute, and co-create to combat the COVID-19 crisis. Every day we're thrilled to discover new communities of practice emerging in response to the demands faced in combating and ultimately curing COVD-19.

  • Fabio Balli from OSI Affiliate Breathing Games was nominated by the European Union as co-curator of the pan-European hackathon connecting civil society, innovators, partners and buyers across Europe to develop innovative solutions to overcome coronavirus-related challenges.
  • OSI Incubator Project ClearlyDefined is working with The Open Source Center at the Digital Impact Alliance to make open source tools that support relief more accessible, deployable, and interoperable. The Online Digital Global Goods catalog tracks over 200 products that support health, development, and better lives.
  • Affiliate DemocracyLab has created the COVID-19 Volunteer Platform to support at-risk families, health care workers, and first responders during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Affiliate Software Freedom Conservancy has shared their Remote Work Tools, to help organizations find the resources to support their distributed staff.
  • OSI members and board directors with leaders from various open source projects and organizations have created FOSS Responders to provide a crowd-sourcing approach to help those in the open source community affected by COVID-19.
  • and so much, much, much, muchmuch more...

If you have the means, and find the Open Source Software community a valuable global resource that can provide meaningful contributions to address those suffering through COVID-19, we hope you will consider donating to support a project you find inspiring.

If you believe our role here at the OSI also merits support through these challenging times, we hope you will also consider donating now.

Stay healthy, stay safe, and thank you for your support.
The OSI Board of Directors

Image credit: "COVIDCommunitiy.png" by Open Source Initiative, 2020 (CC BY 4.0)

Categories: FLOSS Research

December 2019 License-Review Summary

Tue, 2020-04-28 12:15

License-Review mailing list topics for December 2019:
- ESA Permissive PL v2.3,
- Mulan Permissive Software License v1 and v2
- LGPL-2+-KDE (Legacy)
- Cryptographic Autonomy License (Beta 4)
- CasperLabs Open Source License (COSL)
- BSD-1-Clause (Legacy)
- MIT-0

ESA Permissive PL v2.3

Concern was expressed with conflicts between the license text and its FAQ

Mulan Permissive Software License v1 and v2

The Mulan Permissive Software License, version 1 and version 2, were introduced.

It was noted that this may be similar to licenses like the BSD+patents. Ambiguity in which language is authoritative.

The authors explained that there was a need for a Chinese license to engage the Chinese developer community with Chinese version authoritative in case of conflict.

Possible for the authority of version to be different depending on the country in use.?

Can the copyright holder decide which version is authoritative?

Two possibilities were suggested: the Chinese version be authoritative in case of legal disputes, or users select either as the normative version.


The LGPL-2+-KDE license was submitted.

A question asked, and confirmed: license falls outside the scope of the license review process.

Cryptographic Autonomy License (Beta 4)

Based upon ongoing discussions with the license review committee, the author(s) withdrew Beta 3 and substituted Beta of the Cryptographic Autonomy License.

Concerns offered regarding the effectiveness of the license, terms preventing documentation, and Interoperability.

The lack of a patent grant and burdens placed on users for compliance was introduced.

The importance of clarity due to uncertainty when being evaluated at court was stressed.

Issues regarding difficulties in determining compliance were introduced and the CAL seems to be a special-purpose license only applicable to Holochain.

A strict reading was recommended, and examples where data about a third party not be accessible on-demand were provided. It was offered that network node governance agreements were more appropriate to manage issues related to CAL than software licenses.

Requirements that the software user provides data back to the customer even if the original software doesn’t make it available is overreaching.

CAL has no mandatory functionality or method of compliance and instead describes what is required and having a mandatory technical structure is unwise.

As a SaaS license, it was argued, it would not be usable by non-developers (e.g. Wordpress end-users) with compliance risks. It was offered that CAL goes against the spirit of open source software and so will continue advocating against the license.

A suggestion was made to reject the license due to bad intentions: it would be better to focus on the license text without the classification of participants and assuming moral standards.

Concern was voiced with the effect on downstream users.

Clarification was offered that user data is defined as “data which the recipient has an existing right of ownership or possession” with references to the GDPR and the CCPA.

The scope of CAL was questioned: forces apps that run on Holochain to use an open source license? Is the use of Holochain APIs, and nothing more considered distributing Modified Work?  Would social network software need to be under an open source license?

It was suggested that the requirement to assert patents against interoperable open source software is a fundamental flaw.

A case was made that though any party can assert a patent, open source projects don’t assert patents and that the difference with the CAL is that the network breaks if interoperable software under other open source licenses are allowed.

One offered that the rewording strengthened the justification of the rights of users to their own data in terms of exercising user freedom, however, may be too narrow.

CasperLabs Open Source License (COSL)

The initial comment was that the license is not a good candidate for approval due to focus on a business model,  complexity without good reason, onerous obligations to the licensor, specific to distributed ledger technology, unstable links, ceding decision power to the licensor, clashes with OSDs 6, 8, and 10, that OSD 3 is not fully fulfilled.

It was offered that the terms in the license are more appropriate for governance agreements, not software licenses.

A question was posed on why GPLv3, AGPL, or the CAL are insufficient for the purposes of COSL?

It was suggested the license violates OSD 5, 6, 7, and 9.

As many people stated issues are unpassable it was proposed further discussion was no longer needed.

A comment was made that the license privileges one set of contributors over others and allows expropriation.


The BSD-1-Clause license was submitted for approval.

This was identified as an obvious case for approval.


The approval status of MIT-0 license was requested.

An observation was made that the notation on the SPDX list may be inadvertent, noting originally listed as “not OSI-approved.”

Recognition was made that the license author/steward is not claiming it is OSI-approved.


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Categories: FLOSS Research

December 2019 License-Discuss Summary

Tue, 2020-04-28 11:35

License-Discuss mailing list topics for December 2019

  • the relevance of FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) in the context of mobile communication standards, and
  • combining LGPL and MIT licenses under a single LGPL-licensed release.
FRAND (Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory) Relevancy

Lawrence Rosen references a decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) involving the use of FRAND in utilizing patents around mobile communications standards and argues that FRAND fails in its attempt to bring logic to the process. Rosen also argues, based on feedback from a patent attorney, that it then significantly increases litigation costs.

License Use Inquiry

Marios Constantinou asks about whether it is possible to release software containing components released under the MIT license and the LGPL all together under a LGPL.

Philippe Ombredanne confirms that it is possible.


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Categories: FLOSS Research

Using Open Source Tools To Fight COVID-19

Mon, 2020-04-20 08:37

As we all adjust to living with the new realities that COVID-19 has brought, we are reminded how fragile our world can be. However, many open source tools and technologies have been developed that are being used to fight this crisis around the world. Two of these tools are:

  • SORMAS (the Surveillance Outbreak Response Management and Analysis System) was designed to track and manage the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. It has been adapted for use by organizations to track and manage COVID-19 cases
  • DHIS2 is a health tracking system that is used around the world. The DHIS2 team has released a new package to accelerate case detection, situation reporting, active surveillance and response for COVID-19

The Open Source Center at the Digital Impact Alliance (OSC at DIAL) was created to strengthen the open source ecosystem and provide support to digital platforms like SORMAS and DHIS2 that have been developed to address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

For years, global health experts have been saying that another pandemic with the speed and severity to rival those of the 1918 influenza epidemic was a matter not of if but of when. Factors like climate change only increase the risks of new outbreaks around the world as vector-borne diseases move to new areas. Sadly, when a health crisis like this arises, it is usually the most impoverished communities that are impacted most, because resources are scarce and fewer systems exist to support the most vulnerable.

Technology has an important role to play in supporting better health in low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs). As we see with SORMAS and DHIS2, organizations have responded to these new risks by developing technologies that give people tools and data to fight outbreaks like COVID-19. OSC has also provided direct support to other platforms like Medic Mobile, Ushahidi, and Open Street Map that have been deployed to support COVID-19 response. Beyond health, we have also seen how technology platforms can positively impact lives through remote learning, mobile payments, and messaging applications.

The OSC is working to make open source tools more accessible, deployable, and interoperable. To that end, DIAL has created their Online Digital Global Goods catalog (currently a beta product). This tool tracks over 200 products that support health, development, and better lives. Sadly, many of these products are not well known and not used as effectively as they might be.

Having the ability to quickly discover and evaluate available digital public goods will make a significant difference when handling the response to a communicable disease pandemic. The difference between being in the containment or mitigation phase of an outbreak relies on the ability to find an existing tool like a disease surveillance system or knowledge management system, all in one place. For example, OpenMRS, one of the products in the online catalog, was customized into two separate Ebola EMR servers during the height of the Ebola crisis. Using the same approach, OpenMRS could have the potential to be used in managing the COVID-19 cases.

In addition to providing a list of products, DIAL is working to provide relevant data about these products to help potential users evaluate them. DIAL is working with ClearlyDefined to collect fact-based data about the digital technologies in our catalog.

ClearlyDefined was designed to provide license data for open source projects in a clear, consistent way that gives open source consumers and producers confidence. It gets open source components’ license, source location, and copyright information in an automated, transparent way, and then produces data as a service to its users. In cases where the license information is missing or ambiguous, members of the community are able to discuss and submit changes that will improve the data. All changes to the ClearlyDefined data are upstreamed back to the original projects in order to have future versions of the components be more “clearly defined”. Over time, the project hopes to help all of the open source ecosystem become more clear in its license data.

DIAL is leveraging the work done by ClearlyDefined to show information about the licenses that digital technologies have been developed under. DIAL and ClearlyDefined are also working to expand the data that we can provide through the ClearlyDefined platform - including security and vulnerability information.

It’s DIAL’s goal to provide comprehensive information about the quality and sustainability of products that will allow users to understand and evaluate these digital tools so that they can deploy them effectively to improve the lives of people around the world.

If you’re interested in learning more, visit the DIAL Online Catalog or ClearlyDefined.

Image credit: "COVID19.png" by Open Source Initiative, 2020 (CC BY 2.0), is a derivative (cropped, scaled, and color adjusted) of "Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (49584358682).jpg" by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), (CC BY 2.0), via Wikimedia Commons.

Categories: FLOSS Research

Your Course to Open Source

Fri, 2020-04-17 17:17

We're adding to our fully-online Open Source Technology Management courses to provide those pursuing a career around open source software even more options. In addition to our fully accredited, credit-barring courses offered through Brandeis University, we've developed six new "micro-courses." Taking just four weeks and guided by high-profile leaders in the open source community, you'll have the opportunity to explore the latest trends and techniques driving open source projects and companies. Case studies highlight real-world scenarios and solutions impacting the creation and delivery of open source software across industries. Group projects provide virtual teams direct experience in the highly collaborative, iterative, and innovative world of open source communities of practice.

And of course, just like our traditional courses, OSI members receive a 15% discount off the cost of our new micro-courses.

The goal of these courses, and why the OSI is so interested in supporting them, is to prepare the next generation of project founders, entrepreneurs, and business leaders to understand, leverage, and succeed as authentic open source users, developers, contributors, and maintainers.

Our micro-courses cover everything those working with open source software and communities need to know with four options that give students just the right credential to realize their educational and career goals.


  • Cultivate an Open Source Community (begins on June 1, 2020)
  • Integrate the Open Source Community (launches July 6, 2020)
  • Open Source Business Practices
  • Establish an Open Source Program Office
  • Open Source Workflow and Infrastructure
  • Production of Distributed Open Source Software

Credential options

  • Option 1: Take a single 4-week micro-course. Zero in on specific skills and knowledge to round out your professional profile. Our two upcoming courses are, Cultivate an Open Source Community (beginning on June 1, 2020) and Integrate the Open Source Community (launching July 6, 2020).
  • Option 2: Complete two micro-courses in a given topic area, and earn a digital badge in one of these three areas:
    • The Business of Open Source,
    • Open Source Community Development, or
    • Open Source Development Fundamentals.
  • Option 3: Complete all six micro-courses, and receive a certificate in Open Source Technology Management. Show your employer you're serious about open source, and now they can be too.
  • Option 4: Complete a capstone assignment at the conclusion of two micro-courses, and earn 3 graduate-level credits. Add open source software to your graduate experience.

Sign up to receive more information about the program. If you have specific questions, please email Kathryn Wight at

Image credit: "OpenCourse.png" by Open Source Initiative, 2020, CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication, is a derivative (cropped, scaled, and color adjusted) of "learn-3653430_960_720.jpg" by geralt (Pixabay License), via Pixabay.

Categories: FLOSS Research

2020 OSI Election Results

Sat, 2020-03-14 03:48

Congratulations to Megan Byrd-Sanicki and Josh Simmons who were both elected to the OSI board's two individual member seats, and to Italo Vignoli, nominated by Associazione LibreItalia, who was elected to the one open affiliate member seat. The newly elected Directors will take their seats on the Board, April 1, 2020.*

The OSI thanks all of those who participated in the 2020 board elections by casting a ballot. We also want to extend our sincerest gratitude to all of those who stood for election. Each year the field of candidates who run for the OSI Board of Directors includes a who's who of open source software leadership. The 2020 nominees were again, remarkable: experts from a variety of fields and technologies with diverse skills and experience gained from working across the open source community. The OSI is honored to include each of the candidates in our 2020 election.

We would also like to recognize and thank Molly de Blanc and Simon Phipps who are leaving the OSI board. Both Molly and Simon are former OSI board presidents who have led significant efforts to advance not only the mission of the OSI, but the organization as well. We hope the entire open source software community will join us in thanking them for their service and their leadership. The OSI and the open source software movement are better off because of their contributions and commitment, and we thank them.

The complete election results are below.

Individual Member Seat Election Count

  1. Josh Simmons: 224
  2. Megan Byrd-Sanicki: 198
  3. Ashley Wolf: 137
  4. McCoy Smith: 92
  5. Coraline Ada Ehmke: 82
  6. Chris Short: 67
  7. Mario Behling: 60
  8. Mekki MacAulay: 56
  9. George Kraft: 39
  10. Tobie Langel: 36
  11. John Tredennick: 36
  12. Travin Keith: 13
  13. Michael Cruz: 7
  14. Rohit Goswami:7
  15. Bob McWhirter : 7


Affiliate Member Seat Election Count

  1. Italo Vignoli (Associazione LibreItalia): 18
  2. Chris Aniszczyk (Linux Foundation): 17
  3. Justin Colannino (Software Freedom Conservancy): 17
  4. Bjoern Michaelsen (The Document Foundation): 10
  5. Fabio Balli (Breathing Games): 8
  6. Marco Marinello (FUSS): 5

*Note: This article originally stated new board directors would be seated on March 20th, the actual date for seating the newly elected board directors is April 1. 2020.

Categories: FLOSS Research

Job Opening: Principal Software Engineer for ClearlyDefined

Sat, 2020-03-07 14:03

We are excited to announce the growing OSI Incubator Project, ClearlyDefined is now seeking a Principal Software Engineer.

Would you like to work with companies developing open source software and the broader open source community? Are you interested in open source compliance? Does a job working as, part technical architect, part community manager, and part evangelist sound interesting and rewarding?

ClearlyDefined (GitHub) is an open source, OSI project aimed at boosting the success of FOSS projects by being, well, "clearly defined." Lack of clarity around licenses and security vulnerabilities reduces engagement — that means fewer users, fewer contributors, and a smaller community.

OSI Sponsor Microsoft, and its Open Source Programs Office, is looking for someone experienced in open source software, comfortable working with modern software tools (e.g., Node and Azure), and excited to contribute as part of a dynamic environment; someone who understands how to employ scrum and agile techniques to stay focused and productive in the face of change; someone who thrives on cross-team collaboration and enjoys openness and diversity; someone with great communication and presentation skills to convey their message. The Microsoft Open Source Programs Office is a small, multi-disciplinary team that works across the company to help Microsoft participate successfully with open source software and the organizations, like OSI, that support it. 

If you are interested, the team at Microsoft's Open Source Programs Office would love to talk to you about how open source compliance is making it easier for projects to know their software is being used according to their wishes and easier for companies to know what they need to do to comply with them.

You can learn more about the job at,





Categories: FLOSS Research

The Hard Work of Critical Conversations in Open Source

Wed, 2020-03-04 18:00

Open source is bigger and more diverse than ever before. With that success comes challenges, some new and some old, but all of them on a larger scale than ever before.

As we grow and convene more people and viewpoints, the conversations will get more difficult. In some ways, that’s good--vigorous discussions help us clarify our shared understanding and pushing the boundaries helps us find where those boundaries are. We evolve appropriately to meet the needs of a changing world.

But the challenges of cross-cultural discourse amongst people with strong convictions are readily apparent. This has come into stark relief, over the last two years, across contentious elections and experiments in licensing. We need to provide a safe and productive environment for the communities we convene. The world of open source is large and diverse. We appreciate the continued efforts of the people who were here at the beginning and recognize that while many new people have joined the community, many more do not feel like they’d be welcome participants--and we are lesser for it.

To fully realize the promise of open source, globally, at all levels of society, for people from all walks of life, we must do a better job of building a community that’s as vibrant and diverse as the world itself.

Here is an overview of what we have done and the work we are setting out to do to that end:

Moderation: In recognition that our mailing lists had built up a reputation for being dominated by those with the most time to write emails, and that sometimes conversations became unprofessional, we’ve stepped up moderation efforts over the last year.

Code of Conduct: Our Code of Conduct, first adopted in 2007 and then significantly revised in 2015, will be updated in 2020 with the aid of professional consultants who will also help us establish clearer, more transparent enforcement procedures.

New Forum Types: Mailing lists have served us for many years, but we believe they’re no longer the best fit for all of our forums. License Review and License Discuss may be better served with different types of communication mediums. We’re exploring different options for each forum and will make changes in consultation with the community.

New Forums: Some have expressed a desire for additional communication channels, and we’ve certainly had more in the past. We may look at bringing back some old channels, creating some new ones, and doubling down on things we know are working. Our quarterly affiliate calls have become popular and we may look at replicating or expanding those.

More Information: While we try to promote our work regularly and summarize it well in our Annual Report, many have expressed a desire for even more transparency. We’re exploring how we can offer more regular reports on all of our programs.

We have seen incredible progress over the last few years thanks to the efforts of our staff and countless volunteers, as well as community members who’ve praised us when we’ve done well and called us out when we’ve fallen short. Our work is not done.

The Open Source Initiative is a community-designed vehicle that is responsible for convening people around the public interest. We hope that we can find strength in diversity and continually ground ourselves in discourse that is both critical and respectful in service of open source.

Josh Simmons
Vice President
Open Source Initiative

Categories: FLOSS Research