restrictions on web service linking?

Michael Poole mdpoole at
Sun Nov 19 05:02:24 UTC 2006

Clark C. Evans writes:

> 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?

No.  You are describing a restriction on fields of endeavor, which
would violate item 6 of the Open Source Definition.

Michael Poole

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