Open Source Initiative Blog

  1. Open source adoption continues to grow as companies seek not only higher quality software, lower costs, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in, but also leverage the power of community investment and collective intellect to drive innovation.

    PALO ALTO, Calif. - Aug. 16, 2017 -- Today the Open Source Initiative® (OSI), the global non-profit formed to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source software and communities, is pleased to announce corporate sponsorships from and its sister company recently extended their corporate giving program to recognize open source software projects and the communities that develop it, particularly those projects used to enable their own business, through financial donations and employee development time. The OSI joins other beneficiaries including, PG Routing, Creative Commons, Piwik, Selenium, Posgreslq and others.

    "The support of is extremely satisfying for us at the OSI. Many mistakenly believe that contributions—both financial and technical—are primarily made by companies working within the software industry, you know, developers not florists," said Patrick Masson, General Manager at the OSI. "However highlights that today, all companies are software companies and thus all companies can benefit greatly from adopting open source software and working with the collaborative communities that support it."'s Managing Director, Martin Johansson, emphasized the company's investment, "We actively use a large number of open source software in our website front-end and back-end development. Examples include, Snowplow Analytics, Metabase, Joomla, foundation framerwork, MySQL, and many others." Johansson added, "Open source software is one of the cornerstones upon which our business is built. We believe open source software is both more secure and more efficient than their closed-source counterparts and we are actively looking to replace as many closed-source technologies for open source equivalent technology."

    Corporate sponsors like provides the OSI with funds to support a variety of unique initiatives to help promote and protect open source software and the communities that develop it. The OSI understands corporate use of, and participation in open source development is vital to overall success. The OSI's corporate sponsorship program provide a open and transparent mechanism to allow companies to show support for open source software, its development, and the activities of the OSI. Donations allow the organization to continue our mission of education, advocacy, community building...and, of course, maintain our license certification programs.

    Corporate sponsorship also provides opportunities—and resources—to interested contributors to self-organize around affinity issues and projects dedicated to addressing specific needs of, and for, the open source community. These, "Incubator Projects" focus on the creation of tools and services for open source communities, development practices, licensing or any other non-code aspect of the open source ecosystem.

    About is an independent online florist that specializes in the design and delivery of fresh, superior-quality floral arrangements. Founded in 2003, the company has blossomed to become the largest independent online flower retailer in the UK, picking up plaudits for its exemplary Web site and unique customer experience -- and making some very loyal flower-loving friends in the process. are the equivalent of A-list celebrities: gorgeous, desirable and boasting a longer shelf life than their contemporaries. Sourced from the finest growers, the flowers are groomed with fastidious care, fashioned to perfection and elegantly transported to their destination in the shortest possible time. For more information about, visit

    About the Open Source Initiative
    Founded in 1998, the Open Source Initiative protects and promotes open source by providing a foundation for community success. It champions open source in society through education, infrastructure and collaboration. The (OSI) is a California public benefit corporation, with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. For more information about the OSI, or to learn how to become a Corporate Sponsor, please visit:

    Lucia Polla

    Italo Vignoli
    Open Source Initiative

  2. This is the third episode from the series in Shane Martin Coughlan's, "The Faces of Open Source Law," that puts a face to the vibrant open source community, and the fascinating discussions happening within it. This series of interviews focuses on issues related to law affecting open source projects and communities—copyright, licensing, patents, foundations, governance, etc.—and includes interviews with several current and former OSI Board Directors.

    In addition, Shane provides "production notes" for each of the videos (presented below), offering his own insights from the interviews


    Kate is one of the faces you see at practically every significant event with open source governance discussions and she is one of the unsung heroes of open source maturity. From her work in building out SPDX to her role in the Linux Foundation Open Compliance Program, she has a hand in producing and socializing a wealth of knowledge and solutions.

    In our interview I wanted to explore motivations rather than discuss a list of activities. Because Kate is behind so many projects, and many of these projects touch on issues that may be regarded as daunting—such a developer compliance training—I felt that pulling back to the big picture of *why* she is contributing would be more useful than precisely *what* she is contributing.

    The main point that I wanted to convey in this interview, and indeed with the series as a whole, is that the people behind the projects are great. They are all approachable, articulate and helpful people motivated to promote collaborate solutions to shared challenges.

    Other episodes:

    "Luis Villa - The Faces of Open Source Law - Season 1 - Episode 2" is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution license.

  3. Former CIA Director and U.S. Ambassador James Woolsey recently issued a New York Times op/ed piece with open source stalwart, GNU Bash creator, and technology lead for OSI Affiliate Member NAVO/CAVO, Brian Fox, to call on politicians to expedite efforts toward open source election systems. Director Woolsey was blunt about the need for Microsoft and others to cease and desist lobbying efforts against the open source voting community and commended the open source momentum toward securing the elections.

    NAVO / CAVO Secretary Brent Turner responded to the New York Times article with appreciation for Amb. Woolsey stating,"We are pleased that this is hitting the main stream media and look forward to helping to facilitate the transition from the at-risk proprietary code voting systems to the open source model more capable of protecting the national security".

    Turner and Woolsey, along with Hollywood notables, are currently involved in filming a documentary "The Real Activist", exposing the underbelly of the election integrity world and highlighting the struggle for GPL open source paper ballot election systems.

  4. Having watched a fair number of people attempting to engage both the Open Source Initiative’s licensing evaluation community and the Apache Software Foundation’s legal affairs committee, here are some hints and tips for succeeding when your turn comes to conduct a discussion over legal terms with an open source community.

    When you need to discuss a license, a legal document like a CLA or a governance rule with an open source community, what’s the best approach to take?

    1. No Proxies
      First and foremost, make sure the person conducting the conversation is both qualified and empowered. Don’t send proxies; they simply frustrate the community who quickly work out that your representative is always playing the second-hand car salesman and going to the back room to ask for a deal. Legal discussions obviously will involve a team at your company, probably including product management, engineering and in-house counsel. But your representative needs to be able to hold the conversation themselves and not keep delivering cut & paste quotes from anonymous personae behind the curtain.
    2. Multilaterality
      An open source community reaches a hard-won consensus on the certainties they need in order to collaborate safely. That consensus gets embodied in their governance and especially in the open source license they use. So when you come with a new proposal, it’s not like a normal business deal. Those are bilateral negotiations, trading the freedoms of the two parties to create a peace treaty that’s an optimal compromise. In this discussion you are just one of many, many parties and you need to explain why your proposal is good for everyone. The culture is different here too – don’t assume anyone shares your objectives. Negotiating multilateral change is inherently slow, so don’t come with a deadline. And whatever you do, don’t suggest changes to the open source license!
    3. Study First
      The existing consensus and process exists for a reason. You should understand the reason for each element, preferably along with the history of how it arose, before suggesting changes to it. That way you can couch your proposals in the context of further evolution, as well as avoid being schooled in community history, something that wastes community bandwidth and reduces your chances of effectiveness. Read back in the mailing list and ask your developer colleagues for history and context.
    4. Transparency
      Open source developers use a process of iterative, incremental change. Even if a big change is needed, it will almost always be delivered as a sequence of smaller, well-explained or self-evidently correct changes so that everyone can follow along and buy in to the improvement. The same is true of your proposed change. Don’t show up with a new contributor agreement or a modified license and expect everyone to trust that you’re experts so it must all be good. You need to provide a “red-line” (the legal document equivalent of a diff), document each change and provide a justification that admits any community impact and justifies it. If you need a thing to be so for your own benefit, admit it rather than hoping no-one will notice.
    5. Humility
      So you are a hot-shot lawyer and you think the mailing list comprises all programmers. It’s clear to you that they’ll lack the experience to have a discussion, so you either send a proxy you think is their equal, dumb it all down or propose having a 1:1 discussion with the community’s chosen lawyer. Sorry to say you are so, so wrong on all counts. Since the community’s policy is a multilateral consensus, there is a really good chance they know why they settled on what they have now. There will be some people on the list with excellent domain-specific knowledge, likely to be better than yours. And that 1:1 thing is the ultimate insult, like asking if there is an adult you can speak with.
    6. Don’t back-channel
      There may well be a leadership body of some kind. Maybe you know the boss at the company where the VP Legal works. Perhaps you know the community’s General Counsel. While asking for hints on how to navigate the process may be OK in some circumstances, trying to conduct a back-channel discussion or negotiation with the expectation of influencing or even determining the outcome can blow back badly. You may eventually be invited for a 1:1 discussion, but you should never demand or expect it.
    7. Become a Member
      If you do everything right, chances are that the community will respect you for it. Stick around. Build your reputation as a calm, wise contributor. Help others when they show up and make the mistakes you made (or avoided!) As a trusted participant in the “$-legal” mailing list community, you are a real asset to both the project and your employer. Keep contributing and some projects will eventually offer you a role in their governance process.

    This article was originally published in Meshed Insights, and was made possible by Patreon patrons.

    Image credit: "7Rules.jpeg" is a derivative of "Silhouettes, Against, Nonconformist, Anti, Anders" via Max Pixel, used under CC0 Public Domain. "7Rules.jpeg" is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by The Open Source Initiative

  5. This is the second episode from the series, "The Faces of Open Source Law," by Shane Martin Coughlan. The series puts a face to the vibrant open source community, and the fascinating discussions happening within it, through a series of interviews that we'll be sharing here. This first "season" focuses on issues related to law (copyright, licensing, patents, foundations, governance, etc.) and includes interviews with several current and former OSI Board Directors.

    In addition, Shane has graciously offered his own insights from the interviews, which we've included below.


    Luis Villa - The Faces of Open Source Law - Season 1 - Episode 2

    There are a ton of people who have contributed to pushing forward knowledge around open source and more generally open culture. One of the names that keeps cropping up is Luis Villa, a gentleman that some recognize from OSI, some from Wikimedia, and some from his contributions to inter-community legal and social discourse. I sat down with Luis in the second episode of “The Faces of Open Source Law” to touch on the breadth of how the concepts of “use, study, share and improve” have touched on so many aspects of innovation in modern life.

    One of Luis’s strengths is his ability to articulate immensely complex ideas in a simple, approachable manner. Another is to be cognizant of how so many moving parts of open source, open data and open culture are evolving. We opened “The Faces of Open Source Law” with a slightly technical figure in Armijn Hemel. With Luis we pulled back further towards the politics and law, and set the scene for digging into more legal or corporate areas as the series progressed.

    I have to give kudos to Luis for providing one of our best interviews without any rehearsal. We simply sat down, started talking, and flowed into some of the big issues. Each episode is only a few minutes long, inherently limiting what we can cover, but we always ended with a “what should people watch out for in the next 12 to 24 months?” Luis set a great tone with his answer.

    Other episodes

    "Luis Villa - The Faces of Open Source Law - Season 1 - Episode 2" is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution license.

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