question about AGPLv3, OSLv3, the keyword 'communicate'

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at
Sat Oct 3 16:43:06 UTC 2009

My responses are below. /Larry

-----Original Message-----
From: Finjon Kiang [mailto:kiange at] 
Sent: Friday, October 02, 2009 9:30 PM
To: Lawrence Rosen
Cc: license-discuss at
Subject: Re: question about AGPLv3, OSLv3, the keyword 'communicate'

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?

[LR: ] More precisely, modifications made to OSL 3.0-licensed software must
be distributed under OSL 3.0 *to those to whom you distribute*. If you
distribute OSL 3.0 software by making it available to the public for use
over a network, then you have promised to make your source code available to
anyone in that public who wants it. If, on the other hand, you distribute
copies to a few of your friends, it is only those friends who can demand the
source code from you, but those friends can (if they wish) subsequently
provide copies to the public with their own OSL 3.0 distributions.

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.

[LR: ] Here's an example: If Google or Yahoo or Microsoft or Bank of America
were to make OSL 3.0 software (or a derivative work) available to the
public, that source code (or derivative work) would be available under OSL
3.0 to any licensee in that public. This is a solution to the so-called "ASP
problem" because software remains open source even if physical copies aren't
actually distributed on floppy disk to users the old-fashioned way. OSL 3.0
solves the ASP problem through its section 5, which adds "External
Deployment" to the otherwise vague definitions of "distribute" or
"communicate" in copyright law. OSL 3.0 is not a mechanism to force anyone
to actually distribute (or externally deploy) OSL 3.0 software to the
public--but if they choose to do so they must comply with the OSL 3.0
license including their promise to provide source code to any licensee in
the public who wants it.

[LR: ] <snip>

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