question about AGPLv3, OSLv3, the keyword 'communicate'

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at
Sat Oct 3 02:11:16 UTC 2009

In OSL 3.0, the word "communicate" has nothing to do with the way an
application works. It means essentially the equivalent of "distribute" in US
copyright law, but is used to imply that a physical copy need not be
exchanged between Licensor and you in order for the software to be
"distributed or communicated" between you.

Please look at section 5, "External Deployment", to see how OSL 3.0 deals
with applications used over a network.

For more information, see 


Lawrence Rosen
Rosenlaw & Einschlag, a technology law firm ( 
3001 King Ranch Road, Ukiah, CA 95482
Office: 707-485-1242    Cell: 707-478-8932

-----Original Message-----
From: Finjon Kiang [mailto:kiange at] 
Sent: Friday, October 02, 2009 6:17 PM
To: james cook
Cc: license-discuss at
Subject: Re: question about AGPLv3, OSLv3, the keyword 'communicate'

Dear James,

But in some ASP like services, customers also communicate with
websites which the application working in the backend.

Maybe it has the meaning that once the customer could 'use' the
application, he could ask you release the source code in both AGPLv3
or OSLv3 cases. Maybe the keyword 'communicate' had left a large space
for explaining.

Finjon Kiang

On Fri, Oct 2, 2009 at 10:44 PM, james cook <azerthoth at> wrote:
> Modify and distribute, distribution being the key to triggering the
> share requirement. A web site using backend services and content does
> not trigger the distribution requirement. In simpler terms, see the
> sheer simple existence of google.
> On Fri, Oct 2, 2009 at 4:23 AM, Finjon Kiang <kiange at> wrote:
>> Thanks for the reply. I havn't met the legal issue about it. Just have
>> a question in mind. :)
>> --
>> Finjon Kiang
>> On Fri, Oct 2, 2009 at 7:19 PM, Michael Poole <mdpoole at>
>>> Finjon Kiang writes:
>>>> Dear All,
>>>> I know both AGPLv3 and OSLv3 try to solve the 'ASP loophole' problem.
>>>> But the keywords 'communicate' in OSLv3 and 'communication' in AGPLv3
>>>> make me feel confused.
>>>> If I modify one application which licensed under AGPLv3 or OSLv3. And
>>>> I just use it as my own website, without offering services like ASP
>>>> vendors does. Is it possible anyone who visiting my website also grant
>>>> the right to ask the source code from me? Because they must
>>>> 'communicate' the application through browser.
>>>> Or maybe somebody could point me to something like FAQ about this
>>>> issue. It's a little bit hard to find the answer. Thanks. :)
>>> This list can't offer legal advice for your particular situation, but
>>> my understanding is that both licenses want you to make the modified
>>> source code available to users of such a web site.  It is not a
>>> question of whether you are offer paid services, but whether you
>>> modify the software and then give other people access to it.
>>> Michael Poole

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