OpenLDAP license

Frank Hecker frank at
Thu Apr 12 23:33:58 UTC 2001

Derek Seabury wrote:
> So yes, you could prohibit people from distributing the binaries but
> allow the code to go out.  And in turn, anyone who got the code could
> compile it and distribute the binaries freely... so it doesn't seem to
> be a 'very bad thing.'

And I think this potentially allows some interesting business strategies
that IMO do not necessarily violate the "spirit of open source".

For example, a business might be perfectly happy to develop and
distribute source code for its software under some open source license.
But at the same time they might wish to obtain certification (not OSI
certification) that the binary version of its software has been
verified to meet certain requirements, say that it performs 100% to
specifications under various test suites; this certification testing
might be fairly costly and time-consuming to complete, but (in this
example) there is sufficient market demand for certification that
performing the testing and being able to use the relevant certification
mark would greatly improve the marketability of the software.

By distributing the binary version of its software under a license that
prohibits redistribution, the business could ensure that people who want
this "certified" version have to get it from the business itself (or an
authorized distributor); the business could then charge a reasonable
price for that version, without worrying that others could undercut that
price by simply buying a copy of the certified binary version and then
redistributing it to other users at no charge or at a lower price.

Since the source itself would be available under a suitable open source
license (e.g., the MPL), people could create and freely distribute their
own binary versions of the software. However if they wanted to
distribute those binary versions as being "XYZ certified" then they
would have to go to the same time and trouble as the original business,
and presumably would then reflect that time and trouble in their own

You couldn't use the GPL for such a strategy (because presumably the
binary version would be considered a derivative work and would have to
be made available under GPL terms as well), but it seems as if you could
use the MPL or non-copyleft licenses like the MIT or BSD licenses.

Now, to get back to OSI certification: Under the proposed revision to
the OSI certification requirements ("You may use the OSI Certified mark
on any software that is distributed under any license on the OSI
approved list.") the business in the example could not advertise the
binary version of the software as "OSI Certified Open Source Software",
because that binary version would not in fact be distributed "under" an
OSD-compliant license; however the business could advertise the source
version as "OSI Certified", assuming that the license for the source
code version were on the OSI-approved list.

Or at least that's how I read it...

Frank Hecker            work:
frank at        home:

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