The Licence Review Process

The goal of the OSI License Review Process is to ensure that licenses and software labeled as "open source" conforms to existing community norms and expectations. For that reason, all licenses must go through a public review process described below. The OSI Board is happy to consult with entities in advance to help them navigate the process and improve their license, but formal approval requires going through license-review.

Purpose of the Process

How to Submit A Request

  1. Read the Open Source Definition and ensure that your license complies with it
  2. Identify the type of submission (Retirement, Legacy Approval or Approval)
  3. Ensure you have appropriate standing to submit such a request
  4. Subscribe to license-review (if you aren't already)
  5. Submit a formal request to license-review. For new licenses, this should happen before they are finalized to allow for any necessary changes
  6. The request email must include:
    • the submission type and license name in subject field (to ensure proper tracking)
    • a plaintext copy of the license
    • the supporting data listed below (as appropriate for the type of submission)
    • a link to earlier public discussions (if any)

Submission Types and Supporting Data

For Approval

By: License Steward

Approval of completely new licenses, or licenses previously used by only a single entity

  • Rationale:Clearly state rationale for a new license
  • Distinguish: Compare to and contrast with the most similar OSI-approved license(s)
  • Legal review: Describe any legal review the license has been through, and provide results of any legal analysis if available
  • Proliferation category: Recommend which license proliferation category is appropriate

For Retirement

By: License Steward (only)

A request to retire the license. This request can only be made by the license steward. Note that successor licenses must be approved through the new license approval process.

  • Version: Specify exactly which version is being retired
  • Successor: Identify successor license(s), if any.

For Legacy Approval

By: License Steward or Interested Licensee

Retroactive approval of historic/legacy licenses that have already been extensively used by an existing community, but have not previously been approved.

  • Rationale: Describe the nature and history of the existing usage.
  • Proliferation category: Recommend which license proliferation category is appropriate

What Will Happen

  1. The License Review community will discuss on the mailing list for at least 30 days. The submitter should participate in this discussion by replying to any questions asked or claims made about the license.
  2. The License Review Chair will summarize and present recommendations to OSI Board (and copy the list).
  3. The OSI Board will make the final decision, or requests for additional information, at the next monthly meeting.
  4. The License Review Chair will report back to the List.
  5. If Approved, the OSI Website will be updated as appropriate.