External deployment / Otherwise Make Available (was Re: OVPL summary)

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at rosenlaw.com
Thu Sep 15 22:48:15 UTC 2005

> But if we adopt that definition of use, then quite clearly 
> the OSL licensed webmail software is not being "externally 
> deployed" and the external deployment stuff adds nothing.

As I envision it, when I use Yahoo's webmail system by pointing my browser
to www.mail.yahoo.com, I am in fact using the software contained on Yahoo's
servers. I control and direct its actions, expressly causing it to access
mail from a disk somewhere and display it on my computer screen. If Yahoo's
webmail application were licensed to the Yahoo company under the OSL, and I
was (with respect to Yahoo) a third-party, I would expect Yahoo to publish
under the OSL any changes it made to that software.  

On the other hand, if IBM takes an OSL-licensed webmail system and allows
its employees to use it through browsers, that isn't an external deployment
because third-parties are not involved, even if third-parties other than IBM
send email to IBM employees.

That may not be a nice alternative for Yahoo. The External Deployment rule,
after all, does increase the burdens and obligations of licensees. But that
language in the OSL was on purpose. Many people believe that, with such a
rule, there will be more software in the open source commons. As one
indicator of its desireability, I have been told for several years that such
a provision is being considered for GPL 3.

That external deployment provision has been in the Open Software License
through several versions. I've not heard people complain about it before.

/Larry Rosen

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