AW: Restrictions in license

Joerg Friedrich friedj at
Mon Sep 26 09:28:38 UTC 2005

Thanks for your well founded response. Btw, Andrew pointed out to me that I
have used an inapt word describing a certain aspect of the GPL. I didn't
mean to offend anybody, and I am neither pro nor con any licensing model. 

Pondering on the arguments that have come thus far, I guess I can follow
Ians statement that OSD #6 might not make a strong case against a user
limitation, since one could argue that the GPL also discriminates against
commercial software product manufacturers and makes GPL'd software useless
to them. As far as I understand, as soon as GPL'd software is introduced
into a commercial larger works, a "commercial" software product is
effectively turned into a "non-commercial" software product. Going one step
beyond this, isn't this very similar to stating: "if you want to use this
software in your commercial product, go to the owner and ask for a
commercial license"? MySQL for example goes that way. 

Now Ian argues that OSD #3 states how code can be modified, and that there
must not be any restrictions. I completely agree, but the problem here would
not be the code but the license. Since the assumption at the start of this
thread was that the license would be an approved OSI license, with the
single addition of a restriction for example on the number of concurrent
users, people could modify the code, if there was any coded restriction in
the first place, and they could publicly redestribute it for example to take
out all the bugs, or improve and extend the software. However, the license
with its concurrent user count restriction would stick just as the GPL
license sticks to the original and all derived work.

I can understand that one could feel uneasy, since this would go against a
"software at no cost to everybody". But how would the OSD rules prevent this
kind of scenario, and why should they in your opinion?


> -----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
> Von: Ian Lance Taylor [mailto:ian at] 
> Gesendet: Freitag, 23. September 2005 22:50
> An: Joerg Friedrich
> Cc: license-discuss at
> Betreff: Re: AW: Restrictions in license
> "Joerg Friedrich" <friedj at> writes:
> > Yes, for example there would be a clause limiting the number of 
> > concurrent sessions on a web server. Andrew Wilson 
> mentioned it would 
> > violate rule 6, No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor.
> > 
> > Would you consider it a discrimination if someone would know right 
> > from the start that they can only use a software for 100 concurrent 
> > users? Then how about the GPL? Wouldn't you think that a lot of 
> > companies cannot use software under the GPL commercially 
> because they 
> > could not disclose their entire "infected" software? What would you 
> > consider is the difference between these two types of 
> > "discrimination"?
> In general OSD licenses can only have very minor restrictions 
> on how code is modified (OSD #3).  A restriction on modifying 
> code to prevent increasing the number of concurrent users 
> would violate the OSD.
> That is, you could release a program which only permitted 100 
> concurrent users under an open source license.  But under an 
> open source license any recipient would be free to change the 
> limit, and to distribute the changed program.
> I think OSD #6 is a red herring here.  You might be able to 
> make a case that such a license restriction would violate OSD 
> #6, but I wouldn't worry about that, since, in my view, the 
> restriction clearly violates OSD #3.
> Ian

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