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 .:: Document Index ::.
*The Open Source Definition
*The Halloween Documents
*OSI Press Releases
*OSI Certification Mark
*OSI Approved Licenses
*Peru prefers Open Source
*OSI's History in connection to OSI Site History
*Graphics and Trademarks

Policy Statements:
License Proliferation

 .:: OSD change log ::.
*1.0 identical to DFSG, except for addition of MPL and QPL to clause 10.
*1.1 added LGPL to clause 10.
*1.2 added public-domain to clause 10.
*1.3 retitled clause 10 and split off the license list, adding material on procedures.
*1.4 Now explicit about source code requirement for PD software.
*1.5 allow "reasonable reproduction cost" to meet GPL terms.
*1.6 Edited section 10; this material has moved.
*1.7 Section 10 replaced with new "Conformance" section.
*1.8 Section 1: replaced "may not" with "shall not".
*1.9 Section 9: removed rationale referring to the action of the GPL as Contaminat[ion].
* Section 10 added.
* Site History
 .:: Conformance to the OSD ::.

(This section is not part of the Open Source Definition.)

We think the Open Source Definition captures what the great majority of the software community originally meant, and still mean, by the term "Open Source". However, the term has become widely used and its meaning has lost some precision. The OSI Certified mark is OSI's way of certifying that the license under which the software is distributed conforms to the OSD; the generic term "Open Source" cannot provide that assurance, but we still encourage use of the term "Open Source" to mean conformance to the OSD. For information about the OSI Certified mark, and for a list of licenses that OSI has approved as conforming to the OSD, see the OSD Certification Mark page.

OSI Certification Mark and Program

The Open Source Definition spells out the essential qualities of open source software. Unfortunately, the term "open source" itself is subject to misuse, and because it's descriptive, it can't be protected as a trademark (which would have been our first choice). Since the community needs a reliable way of knowing whether a piece of software really is open source, OSI is registering a certification mark, OSI Certified, for this purpose. OSI has also created a graphic certification mark, osi-certified-120x100.png , that can be used instead of the text certification mark. If you see either of these marks on a piece of software, the software is being distributed under a license that conforms to the Open Source Definition. Use of these marks for software that is not distributed under an OSI approved license is an infringement of OSI's certification marks and is against the law.

The OSI Certified mark or the graphic osi-certified-120x100.png

  • OSI maintains a list of open source licenses that conform to the Open Source Definition, have been through public scrutiny, and have been approved by us. If you have a license that you would like added to this list, please contact license-approval@opensource.org, which starts the process described here.
  • If you want to use the OSI Certified mark on your software, you can do this by distributing the software with an approved license from the list and marking the software appropriately, as described here.

The above was just a summary. Here are the details on getting licenses approved, and on using the OSI Certified mark on your software.

Getting a License Approved

  1. Choose a unique title for your license, different from any known titles of licenses. In particular, make it different from any of the existing approved licenses. Hint: doing a Google search for "Your License Title" (including the quotes) is useful.
  2. Render the license in two formats: HTML and plain text. Put the HTML version on a web page. We will convert it into the same style as the existing approved licenses. You can help us by publishing it in that style yourself to save us the conversion step.
  3. Create a legal analysis of the license as it complies with the terms of the Open Source Definition. Each paragraph of the license should be followed by an explanation of how the paragraph interacts with each numbered term of the Open Source Definition. The analysis should come from a licensed practitioner of the law in your country. Email this analysis to license-approval at our domain name, opensource.org. This document will remain confidential to the Open Source Initiative.
  4. Prepare an email with three sections as described in the next three paragraphs. Send that email to the license-discuss mailing list (license-discuss at our domain name, opensource.org). The subject of your message should be "For Approval:" followed by the name of your license.
    • Tell us which existing OSI-approved license is most similar to your license. Explain why that license will not suffice for your needs. If your proposed license is derived from a license we have already approved, describe exactly what you have changed. This document is not part of the license; it is solely to help the license-discuss understand and review your license.
    • Explain how software distributed under your license can be used in conjunction with software distributed under other open source licenses. Which license do you think will take precedence for derivative or combined works? Is there any software license that is entirely incompatible with your proposed license?.
    • Include the plain text version of your license at the end of the email, either as an insertion or as an attachment.
  5. You are invited to follow discussion of the licenses by subscribing to license-discuss-subscribe@opensource.org. This mailing-list is archived here.
  6. If license-discuss mailing list members find that the license does not conform to the Open Source Definition, they will work with you to resolve the problems. Similarly, if we see a problem, we will work with you to resolve any problems uncovered in public comment.
  7. As part of this process, we may also seek outside legal advice on license issues.
  8. Once we are assured that the license conforms to the Open Source Definition and has received thorough discussion on license-discuss or by other reviewers, and there are no remaining issues that we judge significant, we will notify you that the license has been approved, copy it to our website, and add it to the list below.

QUICK FAQ: 1) The board meets as needed and on the second Thursday of every month. Motions may be entered at any time but resolutions are only passed at scheduled meetings or when all board members have voted via email. 2) You should hear back from us within two months. Due to various people's travel schedules we cannot count on having a quorum every month.

Using the Mark

You may use the OSI Certified mark on any software that is distributed under an OSI-approved license.

To identify your software distribution as OSI Certified, you must attach one of the following three notices, unmodified, to the software, as described below. The full notice is:

This software is OSI Certified Open Source Software.
OSI Certified is a certification mark of the Open Source Initiative.

The shorter notice is:

OSI Certified Open Source Software

The graphic notice is:

osi-certified-120x100.png border=

A number of formats and image sizes are available here.

Each form of distribution of your software has its own requirements:

  • If the software is being distributed in electronic form (not in tangible form), you must put the graphic notice or the full notice in a README file, or other similar file intended to be the first file that a human user would read.
  • If the software is being distributed in tangible form, you must do all of the following that are applicable:
    • If the software is distributed with any accompanying printed matter, you must place the graphic notice or the full notice in the printed matter.
    • If the software is distributed on removable information media such as diskettes, CD-ROM, cartridge tape, etc., on which it is physically possible to place at least the graphic notice or the shorter notice in a manner that can be read by the unaided human eye without impairing the functioning of the media, you must place either the graphic notice or the shorter notice on the media.
    • If the tangible object containing the software is distributed in a package that prevents the notice (if any) on the object from being read, you must place the graphic notice or the full notice on the outside of the package.

If none of the above apply to your distribution, contact us, and we'll add guidelines for your situation to this list.

You can also browse a list of OSI-approved licenses.


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The contents of this website are licensed under the Open Software License 2.1 or Academic Free License 2.1

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