Over the years, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) has established itself as the reference organization dedicated to the promotion of open source. Founded in February 1998 by Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond, it has been the main guarantor of these licenses for more than 20 years. However, everything is changing by leaps and bounds and even more so in technology. OSI will soon experience a revolution in the very DNA of the organization: it will also will address non-open source licenses and the role of AI in software development.
It should be noted that initially all software was free and open source. However, as it was marketed, it began to have countless owners. Ultimately, the rise of free software changed the way software was used. The key difference between the two is that free software is based on code sharing, while open source focuses on the practical benefits of code sharing.
In recent years, open source licenses have faced different challenges by way of quasi-open source licenses such as the Open Source License (BSL), the Common Clause and the Server Side Public License (SSPL). The difference between these licenses and open source licenses is that anyone must comply with the Open Source Definition (OSD) itself: you get the right to use the software code in any way you want.
However, the situation has become mixed in recent years. Many companies now using these pseudo open source licenses started with actual open source licenses. The Director of Standards and Policies of OSI, Simon Phipps, has been critical of this reality, “it is another example of a disappointing trend for companies that have preserved the software rights control while claiming to offer open source freedoms when they have gained sufficient traction in the market,” he says, adding, “OSI recommends that software users pay special attention to the sustainable presence of open source freedoms when committing to implementing a project.”
At the Europe Open Source Summit 2022, OSI Executive Director Stefano Maffulli, who abandoning open source licenses has “become a trend among companies. They have a similar recognizable pattern. They build their business and code for five to 10 years. Along the way, they collect Contributor License Agreements (CLAs) that give the company rights to their code. Then they change the license and take away those rights.” Or what is the same, they use open source code to grow, but then blame open source for not working as a business model.
Clearly Defined Project
OSI claims to be working to `educate’ companies and developers about what open source really is and isn’t to avoid so much confusion. To achieve this, the ClearlyDefined project has been promoted. Created in 2018, its purpose is the need and promotion of open source projects by improving license data in software packages. Against all odds, this project has been backed by companies such as Microsoft, SAP and Bloomberg
In the future, the OSI will also address the roles played by the machine learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) both in the use and in the construction of open source software. A need that has been resolved as urgent. In fact, the OSI will already kick off this conversation with four webinars titled Deep Dive: AI in October.