question about AGPLv3, OSLv3, the keyword 'communicate'

Finjon Kiang kiange at
Sat Oct 3 04:30:01 UTC 2009

Dear Larry,

Thanks for pointing me to your great document. ;)

I had tried to ask a similar question in Magento:

They said 'Modifications made to the Magento Core files and
distributed must be licensed under OSL 3.0 and made publicly
available.' My question is about the 'made publicly available.'
According to your explanation, it seems not required to make the
modification of OSLv3 licensed application publicly available if I
don't try to distribute the modified one in public. Right?

But I have another question. According to this article:

You said OSL could solve ASP problems. If the ASP vendors only have to
disclose their modifications based on OSL licensed applications when
distributing the softwares to customers, how could OSLv3 solve the ASP
problems. The biggest concern for developers is about the ASP vendors
offer their services based on open source softwares but never
contribute the modifications they made back to community since they
havn't tried to distribute the softwares they used to customers.

Finjon Kiang

On Sat, Oct 3, 2009 at 10:11 AM, Lawrence Rosen <lrosen at> wrote:
> 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
> /Larry
> 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>
> wrote:
>>>> 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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