[License-discuss] GPL and proprietary WebAPIs

Henrik Ingo henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi
Tue Dec 27 20:53:17 UTC 2011

On Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 5:07 PM, Tzeng, Nigel H. <Nigel.Tzeng at jhuapl.edu> wrote:
>> I'm trying to find an appropriate licensing strategy
>> for our company, and I'm expressly trying to prevent
>> and understand the sort of shims that seem to be
>> standard industry practice.  If our work can't be
>> protected from these "creative circumventions" by
>> the GPL, then we probably won't use this license.
> If it's not a derivative work then it's not a derivative
> work and you should have no heartache.  If it is a
> derivative work then you have legal recourse to correct
> it.
> IMO, "appropriate licensing strategy" is far more a
> business decision than a legal one.  If you wish to develop


> As others have suggested you can look at Affero
> if you think vanilla GPL v3 too lax.

Note that Affero GPL does not in any way change the question of what
is a derivative work and how you could insulate yourself from effects
of (A)GPL by using a Web API or other shim approach. Since the FSF
does not define what is a derivative work of something else, it
obviously couldn't possibly do so.

If A is a service and B is a program using this service over a HTTP Web API, and

1) A is licensed under the GPL, or
2) A is licensed under the AGPL

In both cases #1 and #2 B could be licensed as whatever, the only
difference is that in #2 the person who makes available A as a service
has to make the source code of A available, as set forth by AGPL. The
whole point of the derivative work debate is that the license of A
does not have any effect on B.

(Unless of course you are of the opinion it does have an effect, in
which case that should be your opinion equally for both #1 and #2


henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi
+358-40-8211286 skype: henrik.ingo irc: hingo

My LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=9522559

More information about the License-discuss mailing list