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Martin LaMonica

Staff Writer, CNET

The Open Source Initiative says that it has reorganized in an effort to bring more structure to the open-source software movement and that co-founder Eric Raymond is stepping down from his position as president.

Eric Raymond,
OSI co-founder

Raymond, one of the most visible and influential members of the open-source community, will continue to do outreach and “ambassadorial” work for the OSI, the organization that certifies open-source licenses.

Raymond is the author of “The Cathedral and the Bazaar,” a manifesto that helped crystallize the idea and commercial viability of freely available software.

The change occurred as San Francisco-based OSI said Monday that it intends to expand its activities in an effort to build up a larger network of open-source software providers and develop a more international perspective. Those new tasks will include defining open standards and principles of open-source and creating a registry of open-source software projects. The board will be expanded to include individuals from outside the United States.

“One of the most important parts of any founder or leader’s responsibility is to know when to step aside,” Raymond said in a statement.

The OSI will also bulk up its legal staff and replace its existing general counsel, Larry Rosen. The group has appointed a new general counsel, Mark Radcliffe, and added the position of director of legal affairs, which will be held by Laura Majerus. Rosen will continue to advise the group on licensing issues.

The OSI certifies open-source licenses, and when a license meets its criteria, the company, organization or developer can say their license is OSI-approved. Thousands of products, from the Linux operating system to the Firefox Web browser, use an open-source license.

As open-source software expands in popularity, though, the number of open-source licenses is growing, which opens up myriad legal questions and creates some confusion over the definition of open-source.

“One of the most important parts of any founder or leader’s responsibility is to know when to step aside.”

–Eric Raymond,
co-founder, OSI

Russ Nelson, the new president of the OSI, said that the organization’s recast priorities can help the open-source and free-software movements continue their transition from the realm of volunteer-programmer activity to that of an industry backed by large corporations and governments.

“Stresses on the open-source community, including big corporate involvement and the expectations of (a) growing user community, are challenges OSI can help with,” Nelson said in a statement. “We’ll be offering initiatives aimed at meeting the needs of what has become a serious and professional software ecosystem.”

Michael Tiemann, vice president of open-source affairs at Linux distributor Red Hat, will become vice president of the OSI. Danese Cooper will continue as secretary/treasurer.