restrictions on web service linking?

Clark C. Evans cce at
Sun Nov 19 04:47:58 UTC 2006

Legal Gurus and Open Source Gods,

I'm writing for a consultation regarding a licensing issue.  My application
is a typical web service, which converts web requests into database queries,
executes them, and returns the corresponding result to the user agent.

I am looking for a suitable reciprocal OSI license for my application,
one that prevents usage with a proprietary database.  Does such a license 
exist?  If not, rather than creating a brand new license, I wonder if it
would be possible to append a single clause to an existing license, like
the BSD or Rosen's OSL.  Here are two very rough drafts of such a clause:

  "This software cannot be linked, connected to, or otherwise made to
  operate with an SQL processor that is proprietary",
    or, perhaps more concretely,

  "The SQL generated by this software may not be routinely interpreted
  by programs which are not licensed through an approved OSI license."

    or, more generally,

  "this work may not be used in (but may be distributed as part of) a
  compilation or collective work with third party software that is not
  published though an OSI approved license." [1]

Is there a possibility that such a restriction (assuming it is framed in
an enforceable way) would be acceptable to the Open Source Initiative?

Thank you kindly,

Clark C. Evans

[1] Clause modified from Larry Rosen's post on 11 Sep 2000 titled
    "RE: FW: FW: Qt and the GPL".

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