Friday, January 06, 2006

More Fun With License Agreements and SOA

How many of us I/T Architects actually read and care about all that legal jargon associated with software license agreements? How many times have you just clicked “Yes, I Accept” without really reading what you agreed to? I know I'm guilty and I expect 98% of you are too.

We all may have to start calling our friendly neighborhood intellectual poperty (IP) attorney. Check out Chris Lindquist’s blog TechLinkLetter on the website and his article “GPL 3.0: Open Source Renews Its License” too see how rumored changes in GPL 3.0 might impact anyone using open source software in a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) environment. Here are a few quotes:

“Second, and potentially much more challenging, is the possibility that GPL 3 will impose its licensing conditions on GPL-based software that is not physically distributed, but is exercised by remote execution. Specifically, the rumor is that the redistribution requirements will be imposed on GPL software used as part of a “Software as a Service” implementation. This means, for example, if an application service provider uses modified GPL code in its product, it would have to make the modified code available free to the public.

And remember that “viral” thing? That means if the modified GPL code is commingled with the ASP’s proprietary code, the whole thing could potentially becomes GPL. There’s no doubt that some software-as-a-service vendors will get caught up in this license requirement, should it come to pass.

And there’s another organization that could get tangled: yours. If you are one of the many IT organizations moving to service-oriented architectures (SOA), you are delivering software as a service. If part of your software stack is GPL, any changes to the license could affect your obligation to release your source code publically.”

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.


scott said...

I think licensing falls in with IP, compliance and various other legal topics that are or should be of critical importance to Enterprise Architects. I blogged on this at after hearing Simon Phipps speak at the Colorado Software Summit. I hadn't heard those details about GPL 3 - that's disturbing. But the GPL has never quite been as F/OSS friendly in my opinion as the Apache-style license models. Great post!

Philip Hartman said...

Thanks scott, I'll certainly go check out that link!

Energy & Power IT said...


I am a big fan of phil gilbert and he links to your blog...i love people throw it out there....I can't wait to follow your brain.


Philip Hartman said...

energy & power it,

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you will enjoy occassionally "following my brain" wherever it goes.

Anonymous said...

Curious about the word "commercial" in the GPL, I looked up "commercial" in Merriam-Webster -- "commercial": "Occupied with or engaged in commerce, or work intended for commerce." Okay, and "commerce": "the exchange or buying and selling of commodities on a large scale, involving transportation from place to place." And a "commodity": "an economic good, especially when delivered for shipment".

So putting it all together:

"Occupied with or engaged in the exchange or buying and selling of an economic good, especially when delivered for shipment on a large scale, involving transportation from place to place, or work intended for commerce."

Therefore, if "data" is a good, and "transportation" is moving it, and "a large scale" is the Internet or your company network, I would hazard a guess it applies to web services and many other things.

Of course, I've never taken a bar exam.

Phil said...

norman e carpenter,

I wonder if only the lawyers will get rich in all of this. Thanks for stopping by!