[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Friday, 2005-02-18

Open-source board eyes fewer licenses

Filed under: Gaming,Intellectual Property,Linux — bblackmoor @ 10:25

The big news at the LinuxWorld conference is that OSI is planning to trim the ridiculous number of OSI-approved open source licenses down from 50 or so to around 3. Personally, I think that’s a good thing.

There is a natural impulse to create a new thing even when there is no need for one. I think that’s what is at the root of this current situation. I’m certainly not immune: once upon a time, I was one of the people who wrote the October Open Gaming License, or OOGL, which was supposed to be to role-playing games what the Apache license was to software. You’ve probably never heard of it, and for good reason. There were already other open licenses which were completely adequate for gaming. Why invent another one? The OOGL never caught on (it was actually used only once, as far as I know, in a game called Four Colors Al Fresco), and eventually we (the people who wrote it) realized that it just wasn’t worth the effort to keep track of yet another license. We stopped using the OOGL in 2002 (switching to the exceedingly cool Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license), Woodelf (the author of Four Colors Al Fresco) did the same, and eventually we took the OOGL offline entirely.

Most other open source licenses should do the same. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, even if it is pretty cool to say, “hey look at this wheel: I made it myself”. So I agree with OSI on this one.

(Incidentally, any mention you see of the OOGL which makes it sound like that license is still in use is either woefully out of date or the work of some net loon with an axe to grind. Feel free to correct them, if you’ve some free time.)