In an effort to create more clarity the Open Source Initiative (OSI) will require future new licences seeking open source certification to follow a set of templates.
The requirement is one of the non-profit's initiatives to stop the proliferation of open source licences. In a closed meeting at the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco a special committee was formed that will look to control the growth of licences.
The template will form the core of the licence, on top of which the filer can add additional requirements. This will allow OSI to categorise the licences based on factors such as the geographic region that they apply in or the requirement to contribute changes to an applications back to the community.
The OSI is a non-profit organisation that certifies open source licences based on compliance to the ten criteria of Open Source Definition (OSD). There are currently 58 open source licences in use.
But the measure the OSI is taking won't stop the proliferation of open source licences, Russ Nelson, an OSI board member and former chairman of the organisation told vnunet.com.
"The proliferation is not going to be solved in the next 5 years. But it is a goal."
The issue of the proliferation of open source licences was brought up last February at Linuxworld in Boston by Martin Fink, HP's vice president of Linux and a board member of Open Source Development Labs.
The licence abundance confuses enterprise users, who have to review the licence before they deploy any of the software it governs. Companies in practice choose to review a small number of licences and simply ignore any software that doesn't adhere to those.
Software vendors who seek to release the source code for a software project however often have unique requirements for the licence. This forces them to create a new licence, even if that will harm the adoption of their software.
However the OSI will stick to judging licences based on their compliance to the criteria in the OSD. It won't stop licences that it deems unnecessary ? even though HP's Fink had asked for that.
"It doesn't matter if we like you or not. We'll let you go ahead and shoot yourself in the foot," Nelson said.
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