One year on OSI’s board (aka one year in OSI’s licensing)
Since it has been roughly one year since Mozilla nominated me to sit on the OSI board, I thought I’d recap what I’ve done over the course of the year. It hasn’t been a perfect year by any stretch, but I’m pretty happy with what we’ve done and I think we’re pointed in the right direction. Because my primary public responsibility on the board has been chairing the license committee, this can also sort of double as a review of the last year in license-discuss/license-review (though there is lots of stuff done by other members of the community that doesn’t show up here yet).
Outside of licensing, my work has consisted mostly of cheerleading the hard work of others on the board (like Deb’s hard work on our upcoming DC meeting and the work of many people on our membership initiative) – I haven’t listed each instance of that here.
- “Wikimedia Deutschland offices in Berlin, during the tour at the Chapters Meeting 2011“, by Mike Peel, under CC-BY-SA 2.5. (Mind you, CC is not actually OSI-certified ;)
Some things that got done:
- Drafted and published a beta Code of Conduct for license-discuss/license-review. This was drafted with the intent that it will eventually be a CoC for all of OSI, but we’re still formally beta-testing it in the license committee community.
- Revised the opensource.org/licenses landing page to make it more useful to visitors who are not familiar with open source. Also poked and prodded others to do various improvements to the FAQ, which now has categories and a few improved questions.
- Revised OSI’s history page. The main changes were to update it to reflect the past 5-6 years, but also to make it more readable and more positive.
- Oversaw a number of license submissions. I can’t take much credit for these- the community does most of the heavy lifting. But the group submitted in the past year include AROS, MOSL, “No Nonsense“, and CeCILL. The new EUPL is in the pipeline as well.
- Engaged Greenberg Traurig as outside counsel to OSI, and organized and hosted a board face-to-face meeting at Greenberg’s San Francisco office space.
- Helped keep lines of communication open (and hopefully improving!) with SPDX and OKFN.
Some projects are important, but incomplete:
- Opened discussion of the status of licenses without patent grants in the modern licensing world, and how OSI could have a position on that without unduly undermining existing licenses.
- Improving the presentation of existing licenses. A group of volunteers ran with my suggestion and removed comments that were confusing to visitors, but we haven’t quite gotten around to presenting plain text licenses, or updating the template BSD/MIT licenses. We’re also just getting started on other improvements – help still wanted!
- Looked into objective analysis of license popularity, and a “license chooser” project. Both are huge projects. They do have some (quiet) momentum, but even if they are at all workable, they are still a long way out.
Some projects never really got off the ground:
- I wanted to get GNOME to join OSI as an affiliate. This, very indirectly, spurred the history page revision mentioned above, but otherwise never really got anywhere.
- I wanted to have OSI reach out to the authors of the CPOL and push them to improve it or adopt an existing license. That never happened.
- I wanted to figure out how to encourage github to require a license for new projects, but got no traction.
I hope that this sounds like a pretty good year- it isn’t perfect but it felt like a good start to me, giving us some things we can build on for future years.
That said, it shouldn’t be up to just me – if you think this kind of thing sounds useful for the broader open source community, you can help :)
- Join license-discuss, or, if you’re more sensitive to mail traffic, but still want to help with the committee’s most important work, join license-review, which focuses on approving/rejecting proposed new licenses.
- Become a member! Easier than joining license-discuss ;) and provides both fiscal and moral support to the organization.