OSI: The Open Source Road Ahead

Having been interviewed recently, among other topics, about my take on how FSF and OSI might rethinking their roles in the next future, I want to share some thoughts around how OSI could move in the years to come.

OSI logoChanging OSI is now possible, and I am personally taking the chance by joining the OSI Governance working group, chaired by Simon Phipps. While the  future governance of the OSI is still under discussion, here I’d like to throw some ideas around on what OSI could do about things like raising funds, software patents and “Open Core”.

A little bit of background.

Until 2007 OSI home page was just explaining the idea behind open source, not going any further into defining what open source is. Actually the Open Source Definition was doing a pretty nice job providing a set of criteria to write valid mechanisms to distribute code, thus posing the basis to build social contracts among developers.

To me, and probably to many others, that was all what OSI was about.

In June 2007 OSI changed the home page, defining what open source was (and is):

Open source is a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. The promise of open source is better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in.

Actually OSI has been working hard on approving licenses, but probably it did little to help open source to fulfill its ‘promises’. But over the last couple of years things changed, somehow.

The recent past.

OSI has been vocal through the president voice (blog) on issues like attribution clauses (formerly known as badgeware, but later blessed by the approval of GPLv3 section 7), and more recently on software patents in Europe and in US. An OSI position statement on “open core” is expected, but it has not been published yet.

A possible future.

At the last board meeting, held earlier this month, Simon expressed the desire that with the new governance model OSI would move to a representative model. I’m with him and I wish the new board will accelerate the process, in the meantime let’s try to propose to the board some ideas and issues that might deserve OSI attention.

  1. Fundraising. OSI Fundraising committee may need ideas to raise funds, an option maybe to look at the OuterCurve model, especially how they fund ‘Galleries’. A similar model could easily be replicated at opensource.org. Jim Jagielski, new appointed member, seats also on OuterCurve board, he might well share his understanding of how Galleries work out there.
  2. Software patents. Until the recent past OSI has not been an anti-swpat campaigner, while other organizations like FFII,FSFE have been much more active in this respect.
    FFII has just provided the EU with a response to the consultation on the Commission Report on the enforcement of intellectual property rights. If OSI believes that fighting software patents is part of its new agenda, this is the right time to do it.
  3. Open Core. Given the relevance of open core licensing I wonder if to make any conclusive statement around this topic OSI should consider to involve the broader open source world. While I firmly believe that OSI must be very clear about what is open source (and what is not), I think that open a discussion about how to communicate this would benefit everyone (customers, developers, users and vendors).

That’s enough to start, look forward to read others’ suggestions.