a proposed change to the OSD

John Cowan jcowan at reutershealth.com
Sun Oct 27 05:36:06 UTC 2002

Russell Nelson scripsit:

> At the end of the day, Larry, the community doesn't want to use
> software for which it has to contract to use.  


I was reflecting on the Open Software License, and I realized that it is
not only viral, it is super-viral.  Essentially everyone who uses the
program must be able to distribute source as well.  If you use an OSL
program in any way in your work, if you so much as use it to assist in
sending email to anyone, you have "Externally Deployed" it ("used [it] to
provide services or otherwise deliver content to anyone other than You.")

A home user might feel more exempt playing an OSL game, but if that game
can communicate with other gamers over the Internet, it's "Externally
Deployed" again, and the home user better be able to supply source code.
And if your copy of the game sends information to my copy, you have
"distributed" to me, and if you aren't prepared to supply source code,
I sue you under the OSL.  These are just people who use the software
as-is and don't try to modify it in any way.

The license makes an exception for deployment to people in the same
company with you (they are all part of "You"), but in fact everything done
in the course of business assists the business in "providing services
or otherwise deliver[ing] content" to the customers of the business,
and so it too counts as "External Deployment".  So only what you do on
your own, personally owned, totally isolated system is protected from
the reach of this license.

Don't use the OSL.  Don't use OSL-licensed software.

John Cowan                              jcowan at reutershealth.com
http://www.reutershealth.com            http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
Humpty Dump Dublin squeaks through his norse
                Humpty Dump Dublin hath a horrible vorse
But for all his kinks English / And his irismanx brogues
                Humpty Dump Dublin's grandada of all rogues.
                        --Cousin James
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