(San Francisco, California) The Open Source Initiative ( today announces its intention to expand its activities beyond its stewardship of the Open Source Definition and the certification of Open Source licenses consistent with that definition. These new activities will include

  • the establishment of principles of Open Source development and best practices
  • the creation of a registry of software projects that adhere to those principles
  • the definition of Open Standards that are consistent with Open Source (licenses, principles, and practices)
  • inclusion of international perspectives and initiatives related to Open Source.

To address these issues as responsibly as the OSI has managed the Open Source Definition, the OSI anticipates expanding the board to nine people, drawing many new board members from outside the US. To lead these new initiatives, the board has elected new officers. Russ Nelson will become President of the OSI, and Michael Tiemann will become Vice President. Danese Cooper will continue as Secretary / Treasurer.

Also today in view of these expanded activities OSI announces the appointment of two new legal counselors. The position of General Counsel will be held by Mark F. Radcliffe, Esq., a partner at DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary US LLP. The new position of Director of Legal Affairs will be held by Laura Majerus, Esq., a partner at Fenwick & West, LLP.

"OSI can benefit from fresh ideas and new energy like every open source project", said Lawrence Rosen, OSI's first general counsel and secretary and its one-time executive director. "I'm pleased and looking forward to helping Mark and Laura as they take on their new roles, and I will continue to support OSI's activities to advise the open source community on licensing and related issues."

Open Source licensing has become one of the most important topics in the software industry today, and with good reason. Software covered by OSI-certified licenses, such as the Linux kernel, the Apache webserver, and the Firefox web browser have achieved industry-leading status in terms of innovation, support for standards, adoption, and, increasingly, preference for new implementations. And interest in Open Source licenses and Open Source licensing is only growing as more and more users, companies, governments, and developers seek to adopt, practice, and profit from Open Source.

The term Open Source was coined in 1998 to help explain, in a business-friendly way, the technical and economic benefits of sharing, rather than restricting, the availability of computer source code. A developer's talents, abilities, and education determine what he or she can do with software. The size and connectedness of a developer community determines what they can do when they all work together. A software company can hire talented developers and get them to work together, but when those developers are prohibited from sharing outside their closed community, their potential, and the software they create, is very limited. By contrast, a software license that permits developers the freedom to work on any software, any time, with anybody, creates a far greater potential--given that there are many more developers outside any given company than there are working inside any company. The OSI chose to focus on Open Source licensing because we saw that as the most powerful way to maximize the developer's potential and community's potential, at least for Open Source software.

"One of the natural growth passages of a successful institution is outgrowing the need for its founders to be running things," said Eric S. Raymond, founder and outgoing President. Raymond, under the title President Emeritus, will continue to do outreach and ambassadorial work for OSI. "One of the most important parts of any founder or leader's responsibility is to know when to step aside and let that growth happen."

"Open Source isn't limited to individuals and the hacker community anymore. Organizations of all sizes, state, local, and national governments are embracing free and open source software and are adopting it in record numbers. Stresses on the Open Source community, including big corporate involvement and the expectations of a growing user community are challenges OSI can help with", said Russ Nelson, President of the OSI. "We'll be offering initiatives aimed at meeting the needs of what has become a serious and professional software ecosystem."

While the OSI could continue to focus narrowly on licensing topics, Open Source has grown to touch many other issues. As the Open Source community itself has shown, sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to break it into smaller pieces. We have decided to expand our scope so that we can address Open Source in the context of international issues, software project practices, and open standards problems as separate from, even if highly related to, Open Source licensing. In so doing, we believe we can strengthen what Open Source means as well as expanding the role it plays in society.


The Open Source Initiative is a 501(c)3 California public benefit corporation. It was founded in 1998 to recognize and promote the burgeoning Open Source model of software development. Its programs consist of an informal speaker's bureau, a widely-accepted definition of what constitutes Open Source Software, a certification program for upholding the quality of licensing of Open Source software, and a website educating visitors of the benefits of Open Source. The Open Source Initiative may be contacted through its website at Russ Nelson may be contacted via email at [email protected].

To promote and protect open source software and communities...

For over 20 years the Open Source Initiative (OSI) has worked to raise awareness and adoption of open source software, and build bridges between open source communities of practice. As a global non-profit, the OSI champions software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition (OSD), and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement.

Open source software is made by many people and distributed under an OSD-compliant license which grants all the rights to use, study, change, and share the software in modified and unmodified form. Software freedom is essential to enabling community development of open source software.