restrictions on web service linking?

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at
Sun Nov 19 04:58:16 UTC 2006

In my opinion, setting any constraints on the use of data produced by
the program would be antithetical to open source/libre software
principles.  There isn't always an open source alternative, and
regardless data shouldn't be tainted by the license of the program
manipulating it.  Also, in general licenses should not limit *use* (as
opposed to distribution or modification) in any way.

I believe your specific request would violate OSD #6, "No Discrimination
Against Fields of Endeavor."  I am sure there are fields of endeavor
that (currently) require proprietary SQL parsers.  Thus, in my opinion,
any license (including an otherwise OSI-approved license) with this
requirement wouldn't be OSI-compliant.

Matthew Flaschen

Clark C. Evans wrote:
> 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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