restrictions on web service linking?

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at
Tue Nov 21 05:16:03 UTC 2006

Clark C. Evans wrote:
> On Mon, Nov 20, 2006 at 11:42:49PM +0100, Arnoud Engelfriet wrote:
> | OSD #9 says that you can impose restrictions on derivative works
> | of your software, but not on other software that it interacts with.
> If I'm distributing foo.exe that is dynamically linked to bar.dll, does
> not the GPL insist that bar.dll is also "GPL compatible"?  Or is the OSI
> explicitly viewing the GPL to apply only to statically linked libraries?

It depends, but the FSF believes it's ultimately a copyright issue.
Their FAQ (which is admittedly just an interpretation), says

"This is a legal question, which ultimately judges will decide. [...] If
the modules are included in the same executable file, they are
definitely combined in one program. If modules are designed to run
linked together in a shared address space, that almost surely means
combining them into one program.

By contrast, pipes, sockets and command-line arguments are communication
mechanisms normally used between two separate programs. So when they are
used for communication, the modules normally are separate programs."

Let's define an Depend license as something following...
>   Let any "System" mean an arrangement of software (perhaps across
>   one or more computers) that acts as a recognizable whole.
>   Let "Dependent" mean that a System in question would fail to
>   operate normally if a given software component were removed.
>   Let an "Open System" mean a System where each and every software
>   component that it is Dependent upon is either part of the operating
>   system, or published under the Depend or any Open Source License.
>   The Depend License would then restrict the Original Work to usage
>   within a Open Systems.

This is still broad and vague.  Is a compiler part of the operating
system?  If not, would it be a violation for a Depend IDE to use a
proprietary compiler?  Could a Depend game use a proprietary graphics
driver that improved performance?  Both of these combinations would
clearly be protected on OSD #9, yet seem prohibited by this clause.
Regardless, a database system is not part of the OS. Yet, as everyone
keeps stating, OSD #9 definitely protects (or rather requires
OSI-certified licenses to protect) the combination of a proprietary DBMS
and open source software.  They do not form a single work.

Matthew Flaschen

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