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[ In reference to "OSI, GAP, and "Exhibit B" licences" in LG#134 ]

Rick Moen [rick at linuxmafia.com]
Fri, 29 Dec 2006 19:42:15 -0800

[[[ Rick's article in LG#134 started as a TAG discussion in December. I have included the initial comments with the subsequent talkbacks. - Kat ]]]

This touches on a matter that will be in the January NewsBytes.

----- Forwarded message from Rick Moen <rick@linuxmafia.com> -----

Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2006 19:27:50 -0800
To: osi@opensource.org
Cc: license-discuss@opensource.org
From: Rick Moen <rick@linuxmafia.com>
Subject: Jbilling:  Possible unauthorised use of OSI Certified service mark
Dear OSI Board members:

Please see http://www.jbilling.com/?q=node/7&pl=pr Note OSI Certified logo.

The company in question, Sapienter Billing Software Corporation, is yet another Web 2.0 company using MPL 1.1 + an "Exhibit B" badgeware addendum, calling it "open source". However, this firm takes one step further the stance characteristic of Socialtext, SugarCRM, Alfresco, Zimbra, Qlusters, Jitterbit, Scalix, MuleSource, Dimdim, Agnitas AG, Openbravo, Emu Software, Terracotta, Cognizo Technologies, ValueCard, KnowledgeTree, OpenCountry, and 1BizCom, by using OSI's certification mark in outright violation of OSI's licensing terms -- or, at least, I'd be surprised to learn otherwise. Therefore, I'm mentioning that use, in case corrective action is needed.

I'd suggest Sapienter illustrates why "Exhibit B" licences (though certainly not badgeware licences generically) have become, in my view, a serious problem:

o Substantively all (probably literally all 19) of the above-listed firms already have considerable history of claiming in public to be open source.

o Few if any mention their licences' lack of OSI approval. Many imply otherwise; one (Sapienter) outright claims approval (as noted).

o Not ONE has applied for OSI approval, though many are demonstrably aware of OSI's approval process. It's also notable that many of their modified-MPL licences were reportedly written by OSI General Counsel Mark Radcliffe in his private capacity -- so it's doubtful many are unaware.

o Several of those firms' officers have already turned a deaf ear (so far) to suggestions on OSI license-discuss that they make their licences comply with OSD#10 ("License Must Be Technology-Neutral" -- the main problem) by adding "if any" qualifiers to their licences' requirements concerning "each user interface screen".

o At least one, Socialtext, falsely claims in public to use MPL 1.1 without mentioning its licence modifications at all.[1]

Aside from Sapienter's outreach breach of trademark law, some might object that OSI simply cannot do anything, to correct this situation. I beg to differ, and ask that OSI take appropriate, measured, and constructive action: Please consider issuing a formal statement deploring use of "modified MPL" licenses in circumvention of OSI scrutiny, and especially their use without clearly disclosing lack of OSI approval.

[ ... ]

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Published in Issue 135 of Linux Gazette, February 2007

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