OSLiC & OSCAd 2.0: Free license advice

von Kristian Schuhmacher (Amadeus IT Group), Karsten Reincke (Deutsche Telekom AG / Products & Innovation)

OSLiC (Open Source License Compendium) and OSCAd (Open Source Compliance Advisor) were two initiatives started by the Deutsche Telekom. This entire project started off with the former (OSLiC), as they were in need of a way to support their developers and the company as a whole with the use of open source. The main focus was to define precisely what must be done in order to comply with specific open source licenses. Since no such license compendium existed, the Deutsche Telekom decided to write one.

When it was presented at the European Legal and Licensing Workshop in April 2013, it was highly commended and received mostly positive feedback. However, it was criticised as being too long for most people to consult and read. Thus, with this in mind, the team went back to work and created OSCAd. It was based on the five different questions that appeared in OSLiC: what is it - how do you want to use it - will you make changes - who is it for – in what form. Providing this information, along with the license, would give the same response as in OSLiC, just simplified so that more or less anyone could understand it.
Moving forward to more recent months: what was already a successful project managed by the Deutsche Telekom, has now turned into a fruitful collaboration between two major global companies – enter Amadeus IT Group.A lot has happened and changed in both what these tools can do, and who they are used by.

Shortly after the LinuxTag 2013, Amadeus started using both these legal assists, yet discovered that they have much more potential. Following an internal review of the tool, feedback came in many forms. Some of the main points included making OSCAd multilingual, along with providing more customisation. Amadeus then approached the Deutsche Telekom with these ideas – and a new partnership between the two companies was born.

November 2013 came along, and after some joint workshops, Amadeus rewrote OSCAd in Python (whereas the original was in PHP), and included many new features, along with providing a new GUI. All content is now eaisly translatable (and currently available in EN-DE-FR), it has an exchangeable and highly customisable theme, and also will allow for inputting extra company-specific information for each use case. A JSON API has also been implemented, allowing the back-end to be integrated into other programs and websites. Both companies have also jointly created and tested a third tool, OSLiC Export Interface. This will enable the extraction of data from OSLiC and convert this into a form that can be imported right into OSCAd 2.0. This means that all the hard work must only be done once.
In very recent weeks, Amadeus has now officially taken over the full development and community contact for OSCAd, while the Deutsche Telekom will focus 100% on the further development and support of OSLiC. Dividing the work and support of the two projects between both companies will serve to strengthen and improve the quality – a win-win situation not just for us, but for the entire community.

And this all does not stop there, more new ideas are coming to us every day, including looking into the integration of the SPDX (Software Package Data Exchange) standard, more licenses, more languages and a variety of APIs. With the support of the community, OSLiC and OSCAd has an ever growing potential.

Within Amadeus, we want to empower our developers to use and support open source, and by giving them access to a tool such as OSCAd, we can simplify the entire process. We even have a stamp of approval from our own in-house legal team, meaning that we can use this internally as an official source of legal advice for opens source. For the more complex questions, OSLiC is being used by our own internal open source team, in conjunction with our legal advisers and senior management. This is all part of our internally approved process providing us with a complete and efficient way to ensure compliance of open source within Amadeus.

At the end of the day, this strong partnership between two large global companies is looking to provide a simple way to allow everyone to make sure they are compliant in using open source, whether it be an out-of-hours hacker or developer in a large corporation. Along with this aim, it also sits hand in hand with encouraging the use of open source, with the hope that people will find it easier to commit any changes back to the community.

Über den Autor Kristian Schuhmacher:

Kristian Schuhmacher studied for four years at Aberystwyth University in Wales, from which he graduated with honours in Computer Science with German Language. Straight out of his degree, he joined the Amadeus IT Group at their offices in Bad Homburg, Germany. Having already had prior experience within the company (here he also completed an industrial training year), his starting role was to lead the new Open Source Initiative.
Kristian is now one of the leading members of the Amadeus Open Source Review Board, fulfilling a variety of roles. This can range from answering open source related questions coming from developers, to being part of the final decision for releasing in-house code to the community. He is also an author of many of the internal policies and process which are now in place to ensure compliance in the open source area. Kristian also implemented a work-flow tool, specifically aimed at simplifying and easing the workload related to this massive task. Other previous tasks here have included designing and implementing infrastructure for supporting open source development, along with general developer support and server administration.
Kristian continues to drive this initiative within the company, with regular presentations and info sessions to spread the knowledge to all in-house development teams located worldwide. He also keeps a blog detailing his adventures at conferences and experience with tools that may further support their own work.
Outside of work, you could find Kristian either singing in a cathedral or driving a tractor somewhere in a very large field.

Über den Autor Karsten Reincke:

Karsten Reincke studied German Philology, Linguistics, Philosophy and Music, finally added by supplementary studies in Computer Linguistics and Artificial Intelligence. From the late 80s on K. Reincke has been working as a software developer, firstly as Atari specialist (C/Pascal), then as GNU/Linux expert (C++, PHP, Perl). From the late 90s on he has also been working as an IT project manager.

Since 2003 he is an employee of Deutsche Telekom AG where he works as an IT system specialist and as a PMI certified project manager. As a Senior Expert, he was the initiator of the first Open Source Project published by the Telekom. Today he is a leading member of the Telekom internal Open Source Review Board and author resp. initiator of the free 'Open Source License Compendium' and the free 'Open Source Compliance Advisor. Both are meant as a 'Giving Back' to the community: 'OSLiC' and 'OSCAd' are developed / supported by Deutsche Telekom and released under a Creative Common License resp. under the AGPL for simlifying the compliant use of open source software in (large) companies.

Naturally, also the private life of Karsten Reincke is shaped by Open Source: he loves to use GNU/Linux machines and to publish and maintain Open Source software.