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Re: OSD && DFSG convergence

On Mon, 2003-03-03 at 21:28, John Goerzen wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 03, 2003 at 07:28:03PM -0500, David Turner wrote:
> > > I agree that that's a reasonable and canonical interpretation of '4'.
> > > My concern is with alternative interpretations of it, given that some
> > > people here are advocating quite liberal stretching of the term
> > > "interactive" to accomodate PHPNuke.
> > 
> > I don't think this is a stretch.
> Well, here's your problem.
> Your stretch relies upon a single act being both an act of distributing the
> *modified* program and of invoking it interactively.

I see no reason this can't be true of some programs.  However, I do not
*rely* on this (see below).

> Here's why that must be the case:
>  * (2)(c) applies only when you're distributing a modified copy of
>    the program

No, it applies when you modify the program.  Please read the header for
(2) again.  It says, "You may modify ... the program ... provided that
you also meet all of these conditions."  Some would claim that I skipped
a scope closing there, and that (a), (b), and (c) don't apply unless
there's distribution.  If that were so, why would (b) specifically
confine itself to distributed versions?

>  * (2)(c) applies only when both the original program was interactive
>    and the modified program is interactive
> Here's why your comparison fails:
>  * The "modified program" distribution could be modified without ever
>    having any human interaction!  Can you imagine the dastardly
>    possibilities if you count as modification and distribution under
>    (2) acts that nobody even intended to perform or did perform?
>    I repeat: this "modified" program need NOT be modified by any
>    human.  I maintain that this is not really a modification at all.

Somehow, I doubt this.  It seems to depend (as Don Armstrong suggests)
on machine intelligence.  But outside Gibson's world, people cause
things to happen.  They may do so indirectly -- for instance, I could
build a Rube Goldberg machine to modify some software.  But they are the
ultimate actors.  Imagine a hypothetical future autonapster, which
figures out what music you like and downloads it for you, via legal and
illegal means -- will you argue that it acted on its own, and that you
have no reponsibility?  

>  * Even if it is modification, the license states "YOU may" (emphasis mine).
>    It does not give a computer process the rights to modify the program.
>    Are you asserting the absurd condition that a PHPNuke process is
>    violating its own license by modifying and distributing itself
>    without the user's knowledge?

It's clear that the *person* causing it to be modified is whomever
installed it.  

>  * I maintain that in the general scheme of things (which is the sense
>    in which the GPL was written and must be considered),
>    "viewing a user interface" cannot possibly constitute
>    "distributing a modified copy of the software".  

It would certainly depend on how the viewing happened.  Would you say
that "viewing a piece of artwork" could not possibly constitute
"distributing a modified copy of the artwork"?  If so, why hasn't
somebody napsterized the contents of every museum yet?

>  The HTML code,
>    inclusive of embedded ECMAScript, is nothing but user interface
>    controls.  

This is true of many GUIs, especially those which are front-ends to
command-line programs.  Your narrow view of copyright, while perhaps
defensible from a political perspective, has little match with the
reality of case law.

> Why are you not asserting that the X protocol stream
>    is copyrightable but an HTTP stream is?

An X protocol stream which draws a picture, is as copyrightable as the
picture.  However, keep in mind that copyright law (like, apparently,
wiretap law) has special provisions for copies which are merely
transitory, such as caches -- nobody's claiming you need special
permission simply to listen to an Ogg Vorbis file you've created by
space shifting.

>    What about situations where the HTTP stream is compressed with gzip
>    for transport?  Transmitted with chunked encoding?  It may end up
>    bearing less of a resemblence to the original source code than an X
>    protocol stream to a low-level X11 app.  Why is this different?

I didn't say it was.

>  * Even if you do consider this to be distributing a modified copy of the
>    source code, I advance that the act of "downloading a modified copy of
>    the source code" is fundamentally different from
>    starting and running for "interactive use in the most ordinary way" and
>    thus is not subject to (2)(c).

In some cases, maybe.  But in this case, I don't know what else IUITMOW
could be.

> These points, and the ones in
> http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2003/debian-legal-200303/msg00002.html,
> are ones that I have yet to hear any response to from you or others
> advocating your position.

I think I did answer your other "points", IIRC, but maybe you wrote this
before I did so.  

-Dave Turner                     Stalk Me: 617 441 0668

"On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters 
of principle, stand like a rock." -Thomas Jefferson

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