[License-discuss] "Channelized" Open Source Licensing

Kyle Mitchell kyle at kemitchell.com
Sun Oct 21 01:03:22 UTC 2018

On 2018-10-20 09:10, Florian Weimer wrote:
> * Peter Corless:
> > There seems to be a lot of buzz these days about licenses in the face of
> > cloud providers.
> >
> > I'd like to ask if anyone has considered, in this group, the concept of a
> > 'channelized' license?
> >
> > Party A: An OSS developer.
> > Party B: A cloud provider who hosting Party A's OSS, and is is charging
> > Party C for this.
> > Party C: A  user, using Party A's software, which is hosted on Party B's
> > cloud.
> >
> > Under current licensing, the OSS license is between Party A, and Party B.
> > Party B really isn't modifying or contributing to Party A's OSS code base.
> >
> > Party C, meanwhile, can do whatever they want to the OSS, since they have
> > no legal license obligation back to Party A. Their access is provided
> > through Party B. They could, theoretically, violate the license Party A
> > distributed their software under, since they are just using it.
> By definition, OSS licenses do not have a field-of-use restriction, so
> it is impossible to violate the license just by using the software
> (unless the act of running the software creates some for of derivative
> work).  Acts other than running the software typically require some
> sort of license under copyright, and C can only get that on A's terms
> (potentially as amended by B, but whether that's possible is really up
> to A).

The language of OSD 6:

  The license must not restrict anyone from making use of
  the program in a specific field of endeavor.

The OSI has approved licenses that trigger copyleft
conditions on kinds of use, alone (OSL) and with
modifications (AGPL).

OSL and AGPL licensees remain free to use the software for
the endeavors of business, the military, genetic research,
and so on.  To use open licensing lingo, they aren't
_restricted_ from using in those fields.  But when doing so
involves offering a network service, they have to mind and
comply with the conditions such use may trigger.

Kyle Mitchell, attorney // Oakland // (510) 712 - 0933

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