Right to Use

Lawrence E. Rosen lrosen at rosenlaw.com
Tue Oct 29 19:20:51 UTC 2002

No need to get too abstract in your examples.  Try this one:

Amazon takes an open source data base program and modifies it to provide
data to users on the Internet.  Should Amazon have to release its source
code modifications?

What if Amazon offers those services to other stores so that they can
sell their merchandise using Amazon's servers.  Should Amazon have to
relase its source code?

Why should Amazon not release its source code in these situations, as it
would have been otherwise required to do if it transferred a physical
copy of its derivative work to another company's computer?  Are these
the same activities with only minor technological differences?

I'm not bringing this example up to encourage some moral discussion
about what Amazon or any other company *should* do in similar
circumstances.  I'm just reacting to my perception that some in the open
source community wants a license to prevent what is sometimes called the
"ASP Problem."  The External Deployment provision is not in the Academic
Free License, nor will it ever be.

I know the existing OSL provisions is pretty broad.  I too sought
narrower language.  I can't think of any.

As a practical matter, you undestand, nobody is going to go after your
private, home Elm program.  


> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Cowan [mailto:jcowan at reutershealth.com] 
> Sent: Tuesday, October 29, 2002 10:52 AM
> To: lrosen at rosenlaw.com
> Cc: 'John Cowan'; license-discuss at opensource.org
> Subject: Re: Right to Use
> Lawrence E. Rosen scripsit:
> > I think that overstates the case somewhat.  Is that how broadly you 
> > read section 5?  Perhaps, then, the wording should be cleaned up. 
> > Suggestions?
> It's the phrase "used to provide services or otherwise 
> deliver content". Practically everything a business does can 
> be lumped into one or both of those classifications, unless 
> it is a manufacturing business entirely. When I use Elm (my 
> email client) to reply to a tech-support email, I am 
> providing service *and* delivering content, and would be 
> deemed a distributor of Elm, if Elm were OSL-licensed: quod 
> absurdum est.
> Home users also fall under this classification if their 
> program interacts with others over the Internet, for they too 
> are then delivering content. A multi-player game, then, would 
> make each participant a distributor of the game.
> I have given some thought in the last few days to what phrase 
> could replace this, but have come up with nothing.  I think 
> you should remove it entirely, though that will leave a 
> loophole of the following type:
> 	I download an OSL-licensed program which gives me some sort
> 	of enhanced expertise: e.g., I can predict the outcomes of
> 	horse-races.  The application is not suitable for use over a
> 	computer network (i.e. as a server).
> 	I add improvements to the program so that it is an even better
> 	race prognosticator.
> 	I accept payment from the public to provide horse-race
> 	information, whether by email or otherwise.  I run the enhanced
> 	program myself, and return its predictions to the customer.
> 	You as the original author of the program sue to force me to
> 	release the modified program under the OSL.  The existing OSL
> 	gives you a case, because I am rendering services and providing
> 	content by means of the program.  Without this clause, you
> 	have nothing.
> (I am neglecting any statutory provisions against 
> fortune-telling as applied to horses.)
> -- 
> John Cowan                                
> <jcowan at reutershealth.com>     
> http://www.reutershealth.com              http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
> Yakka foob mog.  Grug pubbawup zink wattoom gazork.  Chumble spuzz.
>     -- Calvin, giving Newton's First Law "in his own words"

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