March 29, 2005

Intel withdraws open source license, receives applause

Author: Robin 'Roblimo' Miller

In a message posted to the OSI license-discuss email list on March 29, Intel attorney McCoy Smith wrote, "Intel has been studying internally the issue of license proliferation.
One step Intel would like to take to reduce license proliferation (both
internally, and externally, to Intel) is to have the "Intel Open Source
License" (aka "BSD License with Export Notice")
removed from future use as an approved OSI open source license."Smith went on to say that only about 25 open source projects on use this license, and since most of them could just as easily use the plain BSD license, "Intel believes the lntel Open Source License could be removed from the approved list without causing
significant problems."

Projects already licensed under the Intel Open Source License are free to keep using it. But Intel will no longer use it, and isn't recommending its use to anyone else.

"Perhaps," Smith wrote, "a solution would be to categorize this license as 'obsolete for future use' or something like that."

Hewlett Packard vice president Martin Fink, who has repeatedly called for a reduction in the number of open source licenses, immediately lauded Intel's move. Posting in response to Smith's message, he said, "I offer my sincere thanks to Intel Corp for this move. This is an awesome piece of leadership and I congratulate you for it."

Other list members offered similar sentiments. One said, "This is a great milestone, as will be the OSI adopting policies for identifying deprecated licenses."

Since almost every license on the OSI "approved" list has at least some software licensed under it, and since some of those software packages may have thousands of users, it's not practical to simply decertify existing open source licenses.

List member Ernest Prabhakar suggested, "Having a separate list of Legacy licenses that are clearly marked as 'Do Not Use Further, Please Relicense if Possible' -- yet are still nominally compliant -- seems like a fair solution."


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