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OSI Files Amicus Brief in Supreme Court's Google v. Oracle

Wed, 2020-01-15 11:22

The Open Source Initiative is proud to join OSI affiliate members Creative Commons, Mozilla Foundation, Software Freedom Conservancy, and Wikimedia Foundation along with other small, medium and open source technology organizations in filing an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief in the Google v. Oracle case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In Google v. Oracle, Oracle successfully convinced the appeals court that Google's reuse of a limited number of Java declarations in its creation of the Android operating system is a copyright infringement and that a jury finding it fair use was mistaken. The brief asks that the Court reverse this decision and confirm that, as has been the common understanding for decades, API interfaces are not copyrightable and that their reuse by others is a fair use under copyright law.

OSI believes that this case is critical to the future of open source software. Allowing the appeals court’s decision to stand will allow proprietary companies to create expansive walled gardens where, not only their own programs but any program that interfaces with them, will have to be licensed under the company’s proprietary license, at their pleasure. OSI believes this outcome will give an unfair advantage to incumbent industry players and prevent the development of new markets and new technologies at a time when software is fundamental to the distribution of knowledge, free and fair elections, serving the underprivileged, providing healthcare, and the world economy in general.

Thus far a remarkable 28 amicus curiae briefs have been filed, 26 in favor of the petitioner and 2 in favor of neither party. The briefs of those supporting Oracle are due by February 19, 2020.

Please note, petitioner Google, Inc. is a current sponsor of the Open Source Initiative. Sun Microsystems, acquired by Oracle Corporation in 2010 and now the respondent Oracle America Inc., is a former OSI sponsor.

Categories: FLOSS Research

Happy New Year!

Wed, 2020-01-01 17:56

Categories: FLOSS Research

An Appeal From The OSI President

Thu, 2019-12-26 19:09

I want to write to you a triumphant message about what a wonderful year it has been for open source and the Open Source Initiative (OSI). There has been a lot to celebrate as an organization and a community. More than 600 of you are now members of the OSI, making us stronger than we’ve ever been before. We have increased staffing capacity, which makes it so we can do more of the necessary work to fulfill our mission. Open source adoption is on the rise and people continue to do amazing, innovative things with open source technology.

However, I would be doing us all a disservice to pretend that there have not been incredible challenges for the OSI and open source as a whole. We’ve been asked tough questions about what open source is, its continued value, and how it will need to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of technology. It is necessary to acknowledge everything that has happened over the past year in order for us to move forward and create a bright future for open source.

At the beginning of our planning year, we set a goal of increasing the number and diversity of OSI Affiliate organizations. Now we have over 75 Affiliate members, with significantly increased representation from across Asia. Affiliate members are now welcome to join the Board and each other on regular calls to talk about the work of the OSI, thanks to the efforts of the Membership Committee.

Our incubator projects reached new heights. FLOSS Desktops for Kids is in the process of hiring their first employee. ClearlyDefined was hard at work with new development and expanded offerings and has over 10 million definitions.

In efforts to clarify and streamline the License Review process, we hired a contractor to write monthly summaries of the License-Review and License-Discuss mailing lists. The License Review Committee has worked hard to increase transparency and review licenses in a timely manner.

We partnered with Brandeis University and launched a new education program to teach open source technology management.

The OSI has been a voice for open source principles at standards and policy events across Europe, thanks to the hard work of Board Directors and Mirko Boehm, who has been working with the OSI on issues of policy. We have attended ETSI meetings and participated in events hosted by the European Commission. We have been present when no one else has and will continue to make sure your values are represented in these critical spaces.

And, of course, we were at events all around the world, meeting with you, discussing the present and future of open source, educating and reminding people about the necessity of open source.

However, we must also acknowledge the challenges the open source community is facing. The definition of open source is being questioned and the value of open source examined from all sides.

Open core and source available activity is on the rise. These terms and their proponents deliberately use a similar term to free ride on the financial and business value of the term “open source” but at the same time place greater restrictions on communities and contributors.

We have again been asked to discuss Do No Harm licenses. While some creators of these licenses are inspired by the Open Source Definition and are working toward the creation of a separate and distinct commons, others call for a reframing of the OSD to allow importing unrelated goals. In both cases, we see people asking licenses to do what it is ill-suited to do, often including ambiguous and unenforceable terms.

Article 17 (formerly Article 13) of the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market became infamous for the restrictions it places on the reuse and sharing of content. Thanks to the hard work of many there are exceptions for open source sharing and developing platforms, but we cannot be confident that that is enough to protect open source within the European Union. We need to increase formal participation to match the rising profile of open source in Europe.

All of these are reasons why we need you. Open Source Initiative members are powering our work, through their advocacy, donations, memberships, and volunteering. By becoming an OSI member, you are raising your voice and providing vital support for the future of open source.

Annual memberships are $40, and available at no-cost for students. We recognize that open source is a global community and for some people, those fees are a burden. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with your concerns.

OSI members who have active memberships before January 26, 2020 are eligible to vote in the Board of Directors elections and run for seats on the Board. The deadline is new this year. The Board of Directors drives the direction of the organization, represents the open source community, and votes on adding licenses to the canonical list of OSI approved licenses.

Supporting the OSI is supporting open source. Please consider becoming a member today and help us build a better future for open source.


Molly de Blanc
Open Source Initiative

Image credit: "2019PresAppeal.png" by Open Source Initiative, 2019, CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication, is a derivative (cropped, scaled, and color adjusted) of "Planting Native Meadow 4, April 27, 2012" a U.S. National Park Service photo, available under Public Domain, via the U.S. National Park Service.

Categories: FLOSS Research

Luis Antonio Galindo Castro is an OSI Member and you should be too!

Wed, 2019-12-18 10:29

For almost 20 years Luis Antonio Galindo Castro has been an intense user of Free Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS), and for eight of those years--since the founding of our membership program--he's been an OSI Individual Member. We hope you too, as an intense user of FLOSS, will join us as an OSI member.

Luis' work in, with, and for the FLOSS community highlights the collaborative and contributory nature of the community. As an instructor for various organizations, Luis has shared his knowledge and expertise to those new to technology and software while also benefiting from the experiences and perspectives of his students. As a speaker at various forums and conferences, in the spirit of open source, Luis shares his successes with FLOSS on topics such as virtualization of high demand environments on GNU Linux with kvm and how to apply data science with FLOSS to understand communities, but he also contributes his issues as a tester, bug reporter, and participant in forums. Luis is, "a big fan of all those who contribute in the community."

All my professional life I have grown thanks to FLOSS. I have learned a lot from the community and from the technical documentation. I believe in the power of a software product development strategy such as those carried out by FLOSS communities.

Looking forward, Luis believes FLOSS will continue to help develop great solutions to the day-to-day problems of real people and he plans to continue to participate in the community, "to share what I have learned in these years, to encourage others to get involved with FLOSS, and above all to make the community bigger."

Luis' vision aligns with our mission here at the OSI: to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source and to build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community. Like Luis, we want to encourage you to participate in your local FLOSS communities as well as through organizations working on behalf of the entire open source community--critical to community success is community participation.

We'd like to thank Luis for his years of support, not only of the OSI, but for FLOSS and the communities that enable it's growing success.

For more information about the Open Source Initiative's Individual Membership program, please see


Categories: FLOSS Research

November 2019 License-Discuss & License-Review Summaries

Wed, 2019-12-18 09:38

In November 2019, topics on the License-Discuss mailing list included best practices for embedding Apache v2 software, a request for public comment on OpenChain, and processes for transitioning code to Public Domain, while the License-Review mailing list members did not hold any discussions over the course of the month. Once again, we would like to thank Amol Meshram, who has joined us here at the OSI to provide these monthly summaries of both the License-Discuss and License-Review mailing lists. If you have any feedback, please let us know.

1. How to embed Apache v2 software?

Antoine Thomas seeking help on how to embed, re-distribute libraries (unmodified), license software and ship in OSL? To this Kevin P Fleming responded, developers shall distribute source code of a software with its licenses, provide copyright notice, and adhere to terms and conditions of ‘other’ included software. Florian Weimer is of the opinion that by shifting the entire input to build system OSL compliance will be easier. Lawrence Rosen thinks developers shipping an OSL project can aggregate Apache V2 and OSL code as both licenses allow the release of derivate work. Gustavo G. Mármol is of the opinion that the license should be interpreted based on the jurisdiction of the business entity.

2. Why will no-one sue GrSecurity for their blatant GPL violation (of GCC and the linux kernel)?

This topic was identified as outside the OSI's scope of practice by list moderators,

3. Seeking public comments for the OpenChain specification ISO format version 2.1:

Gisi, Mark announced that drafting of OpenChain Specification version 2.1 will conclude on December 10th, if anyone has suggestions please feel free to contact.

4. Becoming Public Domain After X Years:

Martin L was interested in knowing about licenses that allow developers to release code after X bumber of years? David Woolley replied transitions to public domain varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. John Cowan points out that under the U.S. Copyright Act, there is no specifics for copyright abandonment. But, one can give up rights by categorically donating it to, decalring it part of, the public domain. Thorsten Glaser suggested to use a permissive license if one wants to disclose code in public domain after X years. Antoine Thomas asked Thotsten Glaser whether the combination of CC-0 & BSL can be used in such cases? Richard Fontana compared the given situation with ‘copyleft sunset,’ a provision of the copyleft-next 0.3.1 wherein s license ceases after 15 years of distribution of initial work.

Categories: FLOSS Research

October 2019 License-Review Summary

Mon, 2019-12-02 14:02

We would like to introduce (and thank!) Amol Meshram, who has joined us here at the OSI to provide monthly summaries of both the License-Discuss and License-Review mailing lists. We hope these reports provide you with a helpful snapshot of the monthly activities on the lists, keeping you up to date with the latest topics, while also providing a reference point for further discussion. Of course all suggestions are welcome as we continue to enhance our reporting. We will try our best to include the feedback from OSI community members to make the summaries as accurate as possible and the discussions lively and fruitful.

In Oct 2019, License-Review mailing list members discussed below mentioned topics;

  1. For Legacy Approval: OpenLDAP Public
    Jilayne pointed out that there are many versions of the OpenLDAP license available on So, Jilayne wanted to know from OSI committee which OpenLDAP version it is approving for the purpose of open source licensing. To this Pamela Chestek on behalf of OSI confirmed that OSI approved the OpenLDAP Public License Version 2.8, 17 August 2003" which is identical to what SPDX has as OLDAP-2.8
  2. Coherent Open Source: Getting underway next Friday
    Nothing much discussed so did not write summary of this topic.
  3. The Vaccine License:
    Filli Liberandum submitted The Vaccine License for approval to Open Source Initiative.
    Florian Weimer after going through The Vaccine License document found that “Complying person” clause does not list any ‘medical’ contraindications for waiver eligibility. So, Florian Weimer wanted to know whether this exclusion is done deliberately or not? Filli Liberandum was surprised by the interpretations of Florian Weimer and suggested to read it as "which are appropriate for the patient’s medical condition" and asked whether this interpretation is addressed the query or not?

    Carlo Piana is not in favour of The Vaccine License and feels it is a trolling exercise. Filli Liberandum suggested to Carlo Paina to read the mailing list code of conduct. In furtherance to it, Filli Liberandum explained why there is a necessity of acknowledging The Vaccine License by OSI board and its members.
    Anand Chowdhary based on his experience of adding privacy compliance under twente open source license pointed out that there are better ways to protect privacy of individuals like local/national/international regulation instead of protecting it through open source license. He is of the opinion that there are better ways to advocate for vaccination and open source license is not the better way to advocate for it.
    Filli Liberandum countered to Anand Chowdhary by citing example of Cryptography Autonomy License of Mr. Lindstrom which ask for some release of data as a condition and head of OSI has publicly accepted this condition. Pamela Chestek brought into notice of Filli Liberandum that OSI did not endorse the view of Simon Phipps (referred head of OSI by Filli) on Cryptography Autonomy License data condition clause. Simon Phipps is member of the board along with others. Simon Phipps views on CAL are personal.
    Filli Liberandum raised a concern with respect to archives as it is  stuck in a plaintext mode.
    Simon Phipps suggested to Filli Liberandum to familiarize with License-review process and change the tone of message and requested to leave moderating to the moderators to which Filli agreed and responded that here onwards Filli will directly reach out to concerned members.
    Gil Yehuda responded to Fil that Licenses usually do ask for things in return and appreciated the efforts of Fil in writing The Vaccine License, while considering the OSD. Gil raised an important point of enforceability of The Vaccine License in the real life scenario. Gil is of the opinion that one can right a blog and promote the importance of the idea instead of restricting it with copyright license. To buttress claim, Gil cited article written by Selam G which convinced Gil to support Free Software Movement. The reason behind citing this article is to explore other platforms instead of publishing work under copyright license.

    Carlo Piana responded to Fil that The Vaccine License is discriminatory and non-enforceable in nature. Carlo thinks that vaccination can be achieved through local authorities instead of enforcing it through copyright license. Carlo believes one should provoke reactions rather than genuine attempt of having a license approved.
    Josh Berkus agrees with Carlo on provoking reactions from members on license instead of attempting for approving the license. Josh suggested to take this submission as a use case and put it on for future reference.
    Carlo Piana is of the same view that should take this submission as a use case for future submissions to avoid duplication of work.
    Bruce Perens is also of the opinion that a direct law on vaccination will be more effective than a license. Similarly, Bruce also wrote two blog posts on the issue of “ethical” licenses wherein Bruce referred the proposed The Vaccine License.
    Grahame Grieve replied to Bruce’s blog post and appreciated the efforts of writing blog post on ethical license and also the basic arguments put forwards by Bruce. But Grahame bothered by the lack of ethics in the Vaccine License, judging vaccine license solely based on enforceability clause. Similarly, Grahame wanted to know whether the lawyers, courts and violators laugh at license and is there any precedent on when someone gives something of value away, on the condition that it not used in a particular way? Bruce Perens replied to all the queries of Graham Grieve. Firstly, Bruce Perens claims blog post argument is based on law instead of license terms. Secondly, Bruce has experience in handling litigation for various reasons and Bruce wants other should not get into litigation for same cause of action. Lastly, Bruce said Lawyers, courts and violators laugh at license and this whole exercise will be term as a ‘‘copyright misuse’’.  
    Kevin P. Fleming replied to Graham and pointed that The Vaccine License does not talk about goals instead it focusses on action to be performed which is not in sync with the use of the software. Similarly, Kevin is of the opinion that The Vaccine License violates the OSD 5. To this Grahame Grieve countered by saying if The Vaccine license is applied to health software then in such scenario would Kevin change his opinion.
    Van Lindberg appreciated various aspect of the Vaccine License and efforts put forward by Fil in creating the vaccine license. But Van feels the Vaccine License does not qualify for OSS because it imposes conditions which are logically separate from and wholly unrelated to scope intellectual property rights that are licensed. Similarly, Van attempted to answer the question on what scope of action can be required of a license? Van observed if restrictions are closely related to the exercise of the intellectual property rights granted under license then such restrictions make sense and compatible with OSD.
    Filli Liberandum replied to analysis of Van and requested to reverse engineer the rules from the approved licenses which Fil believe will lead us to conclusion that the Vaccine License attempt is not an accidental in nature.
    Josh Berkus feels that The Vaccine License is very good example for ‘’unrelated conditions’’ license which can be referred in future as a textbook example to differentiate between what kind of licenses OSS supports and what can’t be supported by OSS license.
  4. Resubmission of the European Space Agency Public Licenses (ESA-PL) for approval:
    Pamela Chestek apologised for not acting on ESA Public Licenses and confirmed that separates threads have been three licenses. Filli Liberandum shared the link of three different threads with members for discussion.
  5. ESA Permissive PL 2.3:
    Pamela Chested replied to old thread dated May 6, 2018 on ESA Permissive PL 2.3 wherein Carsten Gerlach suggested a notice text in the license FAQ instead of amending the language of the license. Pamela thinks this position is in contravention to US law which says where the licensor is not the ESA, any statements made by the ESA would be irrelevant.
  6. ESA-PL Weak 2.3:
    Pamera Chestek has below mentioned queries with respect to Section 3.1 of the Weak 2.3 license.
    1. Can a licensor choose what license will be used for their distribution?
    2. If one receives code under the ESA-PL Weak Copyleft license, can we sublicense it under the GPLv3?
    3. How will the term ‘’extension’’ will be interpreted in as per wording mentioned in Section 3.2.1 of the Weak and Strong license?
    4. What will happen if separate work in integrated to form a larger program, but it’s not in or on a volume of a storage or distribution medium, does that mean the license does not apply.
    Bruce Perens finds there is a problem with text mentioned in ESA-PL Weak License which is more harmful to ESA itself.
Categories: FLOSS Research

October 2019 License-Discuss Summary

Mon, 2019-12-02 13:49

We would like to introduce (and thank!) Amol Meshram, who has joined us here at the OSI to provide monthly summaries of both the License-Discuss and License-Review mailing lists. We hope these reports provide you with a helpful snapshot of the monthly activities on the lists, keeping you up to date with the latest topics, while also providing a reference point for further discussion. Of course all suggestions are welcome as we continue to enhance our reporting. We will try our best to include the feedback from OSI community members to make the summaries as accurate as possible and the discussions lively and fruitful.

In Oct 2019, License-Discuss mailing list members discussed below mentioned topics;

  1. AGPL and Open Source Definition conflict:
    Discussion was not in context of AGPL and Open Source Definition conflict so did not include summary of discussion.
  2. Storing source artefacts in ELF files:
    In this discussion, software installation related information was discussed so did not include a summary for this topic.
  3. Open Source Software Question:
    Ahmed Hassan asked to OSI community members whether someone can claim software released under dual-license to be an open source software by restricting number of users who can access it for self-installation? Kevin P. Fleming replied that if open source software has usage restriction then it can not be called as an open source software.
    Gil Yehuda second with Kevin P and advised to use code which is under the open source license terms and write a code for implementation which is not under open source license.
    Brendan Hickey referred the github link provided by Ahmed and found that “NoLicenseMaximumAllowanceUserCount” condition is only with proprietary project not with open source project. Similarly, Brendan Hickey was of the opinion that there is nothing wrong in the open source project mentioned by Ahmed Hasan.
  4. Are you forced to make your project open source?
    Richard Dagenais asked OSI community members whether it is mandatory to open source software when;
    1. open source code is referred/used for developing software, but it is not modified.
    2. there is a necessity to distribute the Java JRE of the open source project with newly written code to run the application?
    To this Mike Milinkovich replied that it is not mandatory to release the application under an open source license.
    Thorsten Glaser analysed the mentioned scenarios and found that developer application can be under any license terms and mere aggregation of open source code into application is permissible. He also recommended to follow GPLv2 §3(a) license.
    B Galliart was of the opinion that if Richard Dagenais wants to redistribute Amazon Correto or any other OpenJDK without modification then he must follow below mentioned guidelines.
    1. Mention product build using Amazon Corretto and covered under the GPLv2+CE text
    2. Provide complete copy of GPLv2+CE text
    3. Notify where one can obtain complete source code to the GPLv2+CE covered work.
    In addition to it B Galliart presented two scenarios with respect to what is called derivative work and what is not derivative work so that Richard Dagenias can make decision with respect to open source code.
    Florian Weimer replied to B.Galliart’s recommendation ‘’You must make them aware the product included Amazon Corretto and it being covered under the terms of the GPLv2+CE’’ that the above mentioned recommendation will not work as various parts of OpenJDK are under different licenses.
    Bruce Perens wrote a cautionary note that mailing list members in this thread are competent, qualified lawyers and are very helpful. But, in any terms their advice cannot be considered as lawyer’s advice as they are not contracted for this work. So, any advice provided in mail thread is subject to risk.
  5. Google v Oracle –Google’s Petition for Certiorary:
    Only judgement is shared over email and no fruitful discussion was taken place so did not write a summary for this topic.
  6. Feedback on Open-Source Contribution License:
    Simon Fridlund shared the modified version of ISC license with OSI community members and asked opinion about license and whether language used in license is ok to close for a license?
    Brendan Hickey analysed the language used in the license and concluded that the mentioned license requires something of value in exchange for the software which is not in line with open source license policy.
    Tom Callaway feels condition mentioned in license is violation of Criteria 5 of OSD and wording used in license is vague in nature and trivial to circumvent.
  7. Coherent Open Source-Getting underway next Friday:
    In Sep 2019, Bruce Perens declared that COHERENT OPEN SOURCE will be presented at Open Core Summit, 2019. Bruce Perens proposed scrapping of 100+ open source licenses and bringing FSF/OSI approved cross compatible licenses which will achieve most purposes of Open Source/Free Software.
    Gil Yehuda analysed the motivations of open source license and proposed that it is better to see differences between the motivations for Free Software, Open Source and Source Available models. Gil Yehuda also suggested altering goal from "achieves *most purposes of Open Source/Free Software*" to "clarify when a license meets the intent of the Free Software movement, the Open Source movement, or the Restricted Availability movement." Once it is done, we can include the representatives of each movement so that they can comment whether there is an overlap or not.
    Bruce Perens feels idea proposed by Gil Yehuda will divide the open source community.
    Lawrence Rosen seconds with the idea proposed by Gil Yehuda and rejected the arguments put up by Bruce Perens. Lawrence is of the opinion that FSF needs to change its opinions about license interworking before many accept those licenses.
    After careful perusal of Bruce Perens arguments, Lawrence Rosen changed her position and agreed with Bruce Perens that BSD and GPL licenses should be acceptable to both camps.



Categories: FLOSS Research