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.
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.
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.
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 https://opensource.org/membership.
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 was seeking help on how to embed, re-distribute libraries (unmodified), license software and ship under the Open Software License (“OSL”). To this Kevin P Fleming responded the developer shall distribute source code of 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 shipping the entire input to the build system, license compliance will be easier. Lawrence Rosen thinks a developer can aggregate Apache V2 and OSL code, as only the derivative works of the OSL must be released under the OSL and Apache doesn’t care. Gustavo G. Mármol is of the opinion that a 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 email addressed to “RMS” was misdirected to the OSI list. The sender was directed to the Free Software Foundation.
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 be conclude on December 10th, if anyone has suggestion please feel free to contact.
4. Becoming Public Domain After X Years:
Martin L is interested in knowing about licenses which allow the developer to release code after X years? David Woolley replies that validity of putting content in the public domain depends on the jurisdiction. John Cowan points out that under Copyright Act there is no specific provision for copyright abandonment, but, in general property can be abandoned by overt act. Thorsten Glaser said that some countries do not recognized the public domain and suggested using a permissive license after X years, with an example of “the first 10 years license A, then license B.” Antoine Thomas asks Thotsten Glaser whether a combination of CC-0 & BSL can be used in such cases? Richard Fontana compared the given situation with the ‘copyleft sunset’ provision of the copyleft-next 0.3.1 license, wherein the copyleft provision of the license ceases to apply 15 years after the distribution of the initial work.