[License-discuss] Intimacy in open source

Scott Peterson speterso at redhat.com
Mon Jan 14 15:30:42 UTC 2019

On Thu, Jan 10, 2019 at 11:43 AM Gil Yehuda via License-discuss <
license-discuss at lists.opensource.org> wrote:

> First time posting to this group. I hope the subject line got you to read
> further. I'm not asking for legal advise, but posing a question about a
> phrase used in AGPL/GPL v3.0 and hoping to get insight on how to interpret
> it properly. The phrase is "intimate data communication" as found here:
> For example, Corresponding Source includes interface definition files
> associated with source files for the work, and the source code for shared
> libraries and dynamically linked subprograms that the work is specifically
> designed to require, *such as by intimate data communication *or control
> flow between those subprograms and other parts of the work.
> When I read this, I interpret *intimate data communication* as the
> relationship between a database driver and a database. That's the role of a
> driver -- to have intimate communications with the DB so that your calling
> application can bind to the driver, not the DB. I'm asking this group: is
> my interpretation sound?

In case you have not already looked at these, here are two references you
might consider:

Rationale documents that were published as a part of development of GPLv3.
In particular, see footnote 21 in the third rationale document:

21 We have made minor clarifications to this definition. Our restoration of
“intimate” in place of the Draft 2 substitution “complex” followed from
further public discussion of the Corresponding Source definition, in which
it became clear that “complex” in the context of data communication
suggested interpretations quite different from what we had intended.

“Intimate” is the most useful term we know to describe the kind of
convoluted interaction and deep knowledge that suggests that one part is
specifically designed to require another part.


GPL FAQs published by the FSF. In particular:



-- Scott

Scott K Peterson

Senior Commercial Counsel

Red Hat, Inc.
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