Subject: RE: License question: Open Software License 2.1 - obligation to provide source
From: "Lawrence Rosen" <lrosen@rosenlaw.com>
Date: Fri, 5 Nov 2004 13:35:12 -0800

 Fri, 5 Nov 2004 13:35:12 -0800
Evan,

Your email on the OSL 2.1 5 is an interesting analysis.... I'll wait and
see how the discussion plays out on license-discuss. But as to this:

> I think Customer A (running unmodified version) can just provide a link
> to the developers' Web site. If the developers' Web site goes down, I
> think Customer A has to provide a local (or other) link to the source,
> or stop providing the service.

If the original developer's website goes down, how does that affect his
licensees' obligations to provide source code of ***unmodified*** copies to
sublicensees?

Since it was the original developer who imposed the reciprocity obligation
in the first place, and the original developer promised to provide source
code, does his taking his own website down mean he no longer cares whether
his licensees distribute the source code? Is he revoking his license? Or is
he just quitting business? Is he likely to sue to enforce his previous
licensees' supposed obligations? 

I probably would not advise a client to "stop providing the service" just
because of something his licensor suddenly does -- unless he receives some
sort of license enforcement letter from his licensor, and maybe not even
then depending upon the circumstances. 

Any time your licensor goes out of business or discontinues distribution of
the source code of software you need, you had better start preparing for the
future. With open source, at least, that's a much easier situation to deal
with.

/Larry

Lawrence Rosen 
Rosenlaw & Einschlag, technology law offices (www.rosenlaw.com)
3001 King Ranch Road, Ukiah, CA 95482 
707-485-1242 * fax: 707-485-1243 
email: lrosen@rosenlaw.com 



> -----Original Message-----
> From: Evan Prodromou [mailto:evan@bad.dynu.ca]
> Sent: Friday, November 05, 2004 12:22 PM
> To: Open Source License Discussion List
> Subject: RE: License question: Open Software License 2.1
> 
> On Fri, 2004-05-11 at 11:47 -0800, Lawrence Rosen wrote:
> > > Customer B downloads this software and has added a custom feature or
> > > module to the software.  They do not include anyway for an end-user to
> > > download or interact with that module except through their server (no
> > > binary download).  Would they have to include a mechanism for
> > > end-users to download the source code for that modification?
> >
> > Case 1: Suppose Linux were licensed under the OSL and Google took it,
> > modified it, and ran their entire search engine on it. People
> everywhere,
> > third parties all, use Google. What might Google have to disclose of its
> > modified source code to Linux? My answer is: Nothing, because Google is
> > merely delivering information, not delivering software.
> 
> I think there's a fine line here that should be teased out.
> 
> If Google was using search engine software licensed under the OSL 2.1,
> and they had made modifications to it, I'd say that the modified search
> engine was "made available as an application intended for use over a
> computer network." In which case, according to section 5, I think they
> need to comply with the distribution rules in the OSL.
> 
> But if Google is using a modified OSL-licensed kernel, standard C
> library, RDBMS-server, or other low-level software, I don't think they'd
> need to provide source. This is based on my fuzzy intuitive
> understanding of providing an application or service over a computer
> network. When I use Google, I use their search engine directly, and the
> kernel very indirectly. I don't think it's clear where the dividing line
> is -- what about the Web server? Dynamic-content engine? -- but I think
> that's the case with most issues surrounding software and the law.
> 
> Anyways, for your correspondent's question: I believe both Customer A
> and Customer B are providing an application over a computer network.
> 
> I think Customer A (running unmodified version) can just provide a link
> to the developers' Web site. If the developers' Web site goes down, I
> think Customer A has to provide a local (or other) link to the source,
> or stop providing the service.
> 
> For Customer B, I believe they're providing an application over a
> computer network, and, yes, they need to provide source to the modified
> version.
> 
> ~ESP
> 
> --
> Evan Prodromou                  .O.
> http://bad.dynu.ca/~evan/       ..O
> evan@bad.dynu.ca                OOO