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

Richard Fontana rfontana at redhat.com
Wed Aug 14 17:14:19 UTC 2019

On Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 11:08 AM Howard Chu <hyc at openldap.org> wrote:
> Richard Fontana wrote:
> > On Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 10:25 AM Howard Chu <hyc at openldap.org> wrote:
> >>
> > I think what you're saying is that, assuming your interpretation of
> > AGPL (including but not limited to section 13) is correct, a would-be
> > LDAP implementation with an AGPL-licensed dependency would be forced
> > to choose between compliance with the standard and compliance with
> > AGPL?
> That sounds like a fair summary, yes.

I think you've raised an important issue (possibly worth addressing by
the FSF in some future revision of AGPL section 13, or clarifying in
the GNU licenses FAQ), but I am not sure I agree with you about OSD

You're basically saying that when OSD says "No provision of the
license may be predicated on any individual technology or style of
interface", "technology or style of interface" includes any arbitrary
technology standard. It seems to me that if that were so, it would be
impossible to ever ascertain whether a license met OSD 10, because one
can never know the requirements of all possible existing or future
standards. Conceivably one could design the technological (as opposed
to intellectual property-related) aspects of a standard intentionally
to frustrate certain kinds of existing, or I suppose even hypothesized
future, open source-licensed implementations. But leaving that aside,
if AGPLv3 had predated LDAPv3 instead of the opposite, and assuming
for convenience that LDAPv3 was the only technology standard
conflicting with AGPLv3 section 13 in the way you've suggested,
wouldn't that mean that AGPLv3 was properly treated as and approved as
an open source license until the point in time that LDAPv3 came into

> Also, simply adding a non-standard extension to our
> server to meet this license requirement doesn't solve anything, if all LDAP clients aren't
> also modified to recognize the extension, and that in particular seems an unrealistic task.

The precise question here seems to be whether the server operator can
be said to be "prominently offer[ing]" the opportunity to receive the
source code in this sort of case (the hypothetical where existing LDAP
clients cannot recognize the extension). To the extent that's an OSD
10 issue, I guess it would be because in the context of particular
technology standards, it may be impossible to "prominently offer" in
any meaningful sense. But that goes back to the issue of whether
"technology" in OSD 10 includes any specifically defined technology


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