An Appeal From The OSI President

I want to write to you a triumphant message about what a wonderful year it has been for open source and the Open Source Initiative (OSI). There has been a lot to celebrate as an organization and a community. More than 600 of you are now members of the OSI, making us stronger than we’ve ever been before. We have increased staffing capacity, which makes it so we can do more of the necessary work to fulfill our mission. Open source adoption is on the rise and people continue to do amazing, innovative things with open source technology.

However, I would be doing us all a disservice to pretend that there have not been incredible challenges for the OSI and open source as a whole. We’ve been asked tough questions about what open source is, its continued value, and how it will need to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of technology. It is necessary to acknowledge everything that has happened over the past year in order for us to move forward and create a bright future for open source.

At the beginning of our planning year, we set a goal of increasing the number and diversity of OSI Affiliate organizations. Now we have over 75 Affiliate members, with significantly increased representation from across Asia. Affiliate members are now welcome to join the Board and each other on regular calls to talk about the work of the OSI, thanks to the efforts of the Membership Committee.

Our incubator projects reached new heights. FLOSS Desktops for Kids is in the process of hiring their first employee. ClearlyDefined was hard at work with new development and expanded offerings and has over 10 million definitions.

In efforts to clarify and streamline the License Review process, we hired a contractor to write monthly summaries of the License-Review and License-Discuss mailing lists. The License Review Committee has worked hard to increase transparency and review licenses in a timely manner.

We partnered with Brandeis University and launched a new education program to teach open source technology management.

The OSI has been a voice for open source principles at standards and policy events across Europe, thanks to the hard work of Board Directors and Mirko Boehm, who has been working with the OSI on issues of policy. We have attended ETSI meetings and participated in events hosted by the European Commission. We have been present when no one else has and will continue to make sure your values are represented in these critical spaces.

And, of course, we were at events all around the world, meeting with you, discussing the present and future of open source, educating and reminding people about the necessity of open source.

However, we must also acknowledge the challenges the open source community is facing. The definition of open source is being questioned and the value of open source examined from all sides.

Open core and source available activity is on the rise. These terms and their proponents deliberately use a similar term to free ride on the financial and business value of the term “open source” but at the same time place greater restrictions on communities and contributors.

We have again been asked to discuss Do No Harm licenses. While some creators of these licenses are inspired by the Open Source Definition and are working toward the creation of a separate and distinct commons, others call for a reframing of the OSD to allow importing unrelated goals. In both cases, we see people asking licenses to do what it is ill-suited to do, often including ambiguous and unenforceable terms.

Article 17 (formerly Article 13) of the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market became infamous for the restrictions it places on the reuse and sharing of content. Thanks to the hard work of many there are exceptions for open source sharing and developing platforms, but we cannot be confident that that is enough to protect open source within the European Union. We need to increase formal participation to match the rising profile of open source in Europe.

All of these are reasons why we need you. Open Source Initiative members are powering our work, through their advocacy, donations, memberships, and volunteering. By becoming an OSI member, you are raising your voice and providing vital support for the future of open source.

Annual memberships are $40, and available at no-cost for students. We recognize that open source is a global community and for some people, those fees are a burden. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with your concerns.

OSI members who have active memberships before January 26, 2020 are eligible to vote in the Board of Directors elections and run for seats on the Board. The deadline is new this year. The Board of Directors drives the direction of the organization, represents the open source community, and votes on adding licenses to the canonical list of OSI approved licenses.

Supporting the OSI is supporting open source. Please consider becoming a member today and help us build a better future for open source.


Molly de Blanc
Open Source Initiative

Image credit:2019PresAppeal.png” by Open Source Initiative, 2019, CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication, is a derivative (cropped, scaled, and color adjusted) of “Planting Native Meadow 4, April 27, 2012” a U.S. National Park Service photo, available under Public Domain, via the U.S. National Park Service.