restrictions on web service linking?

Clark C. Evans cce at
Mon Nov 20 21:30:28 UTC 2006


I think I once again caused confusion by using the word "database" instead 
of "database system": I have no particular interest one way or the other
in "user data".  Perhaps we can focus on a concrete scenario:

  1. An organization deploys my web application on a public web server
     such that the users of that system are the general public.

  2. The organization configures my application to use a proprietary
     database system (say Oracle) instead of a open source database
     system like PostgreSQL.

  3. The organization modifies the source code to add a "pivot" screen
     that uses a Oracle specific feature, say a "CUBE" clause in a GROUP
     BY, that is not available in PostgreSQL.

If my application was released under the OSLv3, the license would trigger
via the "External Deployment" clause and require the organization to publish
all source code changes that they are using due to this deployment.  However,
the source code released isn't helpful, since public users of cannot make use
of these "improvements" unless they separately license Oracle.

I would like to prevent such "improvements" to my application from being
externally deployed.  In particular, I'd like to see an additional clause
to OSLv3 that covers this case.



P.S. I do admit that my earlier framing of the issue was far too vague
and broad.  I have other scenarios that I'd like to discuss, but this
is a very good starting point for one.

On Mon, Nov 20, 2006 at 02:36:04PM -0500, David Dillard wrote:
| I understand your concern.  However I don't believe you can restrict
| usage the way you want to, whether that usage be public or private, and
| meet the requirements of the OSD as it exists today.
| It seems to me that what you may need to do is broach the subject of
| changing the OSD to include provisions for freedom of data as well as
| freedom of source code.
| -----Original Message-----
| From: Clark C. Evans [mailto:cce at] 
| Sent: Monday, November 20, 2006 2:25 PM
| To: David Dillard
| Cc: Clark C. Evans; License Discuss
| Subject: Re: restrictions on web service linking?
| David,
| Thank you for the constructive feedback.  My wording is clumsy and my
| intent is being informed by this discussion.  I intend for the
| restriction discussed to only trigger upon External Deployment as found
| in OSL v 3.0:
|   The term "External Deployment" means the use, distribution, or
|   communication of the Original Work or Derivative Works in any way
|   such that the Original Work or Derivative Works may be used by anyone
|   other than You, whether those works are distributed or communicated
|   to those persons or made available as an application intended for
|   use over a network.
| In particular, I'm not concerned with "private usage".  I'm concerned
| with public usage of my application on a proprietary database, one which
| prevents users of the combined system from obtaining their own copy for
| their personal use.
| On Mon, Nov 20, 2006 at 01:33:26PM -0500, David Dillard wrote:
| | > I see the External Deployment (see OSL v3.0) of my application in a 
| | > manner with which it is configured to depend upon a proprietary 
| | > database system (such as Oracle, DB2, Microsoft SQL Server) for its 
| | > operation as problematic, and I would like to prevent it 
| | > accordingly.
| | 
| | This can be viewed as potentially violating a several items in OSD:
| | 
| | 3. Derived works: If someone cannot modify the software to work with 
| | any of the proprietary DBs you named, you've restricted the ability to
| | create derived works.
| |
| | 5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups: You are discriminating
| | against those that wish to use proprietary software in combination 
| | with your software.
| |
| | And arguably:
| | 
| | 9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software: You are preventing, via 
| | license, other software from being used with your software.  
| | Admittedly, the description here goes into other software distributed 
| | with the open source software, but I strongly suspect the intent was 
| | not to limit it to just that software, as the rationale section 
| | alludes to.  It says that "Distributors of open-source software have 
| | the right to make their own choices about their own software."  I 
| | think we can all agree that should apply to users of open source
| software as well.
| I hope the above declaration addresses these concerns.  It is not what I
| was originally proposing, but it is now.  I concede, in the tradition of
| the GPL, that an open source license should not restrict the private
| usage of that software or other software components.  The issue at hand
| is public distribution and performance of derived works which are
| dependent upon proprietary code.
| Thank you once again,
| Clark

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