[License-discuss] Discussion: AGPL and Open Source Definition conflict

Howard Chu hyc at openldap.org
Wed Aug 14 13:27:39 UTC 2019

Clause #10 of the definition https://opensource.org/docs/osd

10. License Must Be Technology-Neutral

No provision of the license may be predicated on any individual technology or style of interface.

I note that the Affero GPL https://www.gnu.org/licenses/agpl-3.0.en.html clause #13

13. Remote Network Interaction; Use with the GNU General Public License.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this License, if you modify the Program, your modified version must prominently offer all users interacting with it
remotely through a computer network (if your version supports such interaction) an opportunity to receive the Corresponding Source of your version by providing
access to the Corresponding Source from a network server at no charge, through some standard or customary means of facilitating copying of software.

violates the OSD clause #10. This issue arose specifically in the case of OpenLDAP when
Oracle relicensed BerkeleyDB 6.x using AGPL. There is no available mechanism in the LDAP
Protocol to allow us to comply with clause #13 of the AGPL. I believe the same is true of
many common internet protocols such as SMTP, FTP, POP, IMAP, etc., which thus now precludes
servers for these protocols from using BerkeleyDB. It appears to me that AGPL is plainly
incompatible with the OSD and should not be an OSI approved license.

This is no longer a pressing issue for us since we have subsequently abandoned BerkeleyDB
in favor of LMDB. But I thought I should point it out since it may affect other projects.

  -- Howard Chu
  CTO, Symas Corp.           http://www.symas.com
  Director, Highland Sun     http://highlandsun.com/hyc/
  Chief Architect, OpenLDAP  http://www.openldap.org/project/

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