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

Howard Chu hyc at openldap.org
Wed Aug 14 17:28:07 UTC 2019

Richard Fontana wrote:
> 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
> 10.
> 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.

In the context of this discussion, where we have a server that implements
LDAP, and it is impossible within the LDAP protocol to meet this requirement,
it implies that the AGPL would require us to implement some other additional
protocol to satisfy this license clause. The clause seems to be predicated
on a service operating over a network providing a particular style of interface
that directly/prominently presents a source code offer to the remote users.

>> 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
> standard.
> Richard

  -- 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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