Licensing issues in Open Source

Open Standards, FRAND, and FOSS – London 29/03/12 1

The BCS Open Source Specialist Group (OSSG) will be holding an event considering the relationship between Open Standards, Fair, Reasonable, And Non-Discriminatory terms (FRAND), and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) at the BCS Central London Offices, First Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7HA ( on Thursday 29th March 2012, from 1800 to 2100 hours.

This bookable event is free and open to all with buffet and refreshments. To book a place to attend please email Mark Elkins at


The Cabinet Office opened an Open Standards Consultation on 9 February 2012 which closes for comments on 3 May 2012. Within question one is the sub-question:

How could adopting (Fair) Reasonable and Non Discriminatory ((F)RAND) standards deliver a level playing field for open source and proprietary software solution providers?

Dependent upon on your viewpoint FRAND is possibly one of the most contentious terms that could be applied to FOSS because it conflicts with some potentially important aspects of it. As well as the view of the UK Government and the awaited outcome of the Cabinet Office Open Standards Consultation there is activity taking place in the EU Parliament that may affect the use of FOSS due to FRAND.

Aim of event

This event aims to unravel the relationship between Open Standards, FRAND, and FOSS and therefore make it clear what affect this relationship has for the practical application of Open Source. For instance – Would the use of the GPL licence and other OSI approved licences be affected?; Would the UK Government be constrained in what Open Source software it could use? or Could ways be found around such problems?

The findings from this event will be passed on to the BCS Policy Hub to feed into an overall BCS response to the Cabinet Office Open Standards Consultation. The BCS Policy Hub Consultation can be found at where comments should be submitted by 18th April 2012.


Gerry Gavigan, Chair, Open Source Consortium (OSC), will discuss Royalty Free (RF) Open Standards and FRAND, which will involve active audience participation in that discussion.

OSSG AGM 2009 – London 14/05/09

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Open Source Specialist Group (OSSG) will be held on 14th May 2009 from 1800 hours at the BCS Central London Offices, First Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7HA.

Please send nominations for all OSSG Committee member posts to Mark Elkins at

The procedure governing elections is set out in the OSSG Constitution at

An event TBC is due to commence immediately after the business of the AGM has been concluded.

Free buffet and refreshments available.

For further information please contact Mark Elkins at

Archived mailing lists

As part of the migration from Plone to WordPress and related pieces of software, the old mailing lists have been extracted from Plone and archived. Hereafter, mailing lists will be organised as follows:
This list is used for discussing committee business. The archives are open but only committee members may join the list.
This is a low-traffic list used for OSSG event announcements. Posting is restricted to committee members.
A members discussion list, though we would prefer members to discuss issues using the blog comment pages.

The old mailing list archives may be found here:

Committee Forum
Committee discussion
Discussion of issues surround business and open source.
Member Forum
Member event announcements
Licensing discussion
eGovernment and Open Source
Discussion of Open Source in eGovernment
Knowledge Management and Open Source
Using open source for knowledge management
Agile Methods and Open Source
Relationship between Agile Methods and Open Source
Legal Issues surrounding Open Source
Discussion of legal issues involvng Open Source
Accessibility and Open Source
Discussion of Accessiblity in Open Source
Education and Open Source
Use of Open Source in Education

Apologies for any duplicate messages etc. The archives were produced by screen-scraping the old Plone site. Not ideal.

own licence 5

if i have developed an open source software; am i allowed to write my own licence(one in which i have my own conditions). for instance, i might not agree with the wording of the various available formats of licences and would prefer to impose my own conditions on the users.

Call to boycott OASIS Standards that are not open 3

Computer Weekly (2005,01 March p.12) reports on a row between leading Open Source Developers and standards organization OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards). OASIS has recently changed its rules allowing developers the right to charge royalties for contributed code.

This has met with strong disapproval from leading members of the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Community including Lawrence Rosen, Richard Stallman, Bruce Perens, Mitchell Kapor, Lawrence Lessig, Doc Searls, Tim O’Reilly, and Eric Raymond. They have all signed an email letter – a copy of this is shown at – calling for OASIS to drop its plans and to boycott any of its standards that are not open.

More about OASIS can be found on its website at which amongst other detail describes itself as a not-for-profit consortium that produces more web services standards than any other organization.

Lawrence Rosen has recently published a book entitled Open Source Licensing Software Freedom and Intellectual Property. An online version is available at published under the Academic Free Licence version 2.1.

Mark Elkins

BCS OS Licence 15

I was looking at the state of OS Licences (IANAL)
and concluded that it would be useful to the
OS community if the BCS itself operated an OS Licence.

If it good enough for the The Regents of the University of California,
then why not for the BCS itself?

1) Open Source licencing has matured. The principles and pitfalls
are better understood. The BCS can offer a good licence.

2) The BCS can offer protection from a perceived problem with
current licences – the ability to transfer copyright and then
revoke the openness (Estoppel not withstanding).

3) The BCS would be an ideal home for the copyright for national UK
OS projects e.g. Health, Local Government, Defence, Transport.

1) The BCS charter may prevent it.
2) The BCS board may not like it.

Both disadvantages are not immutable, though they may take time to resolve.

Malcolm Kendall