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Re: OSD && DFSG - different purposes - constructive suggestion!



On Sun, Mar 09, 2003 at 08:19:33PM -0500, Don Armstrong wrote:
> On Mon, 10 Mar 2003, Anthony Towns wrote:
> > If you want the possible term defined more precisely, consider
> > something more like:
> > 	"If you have distributed a modified version of The Work, then
> >	 if you receive a request by the Primary Copyright Holder
> >	 (named above), you must provide a copy of your modifications
> >	 as at the time you receive the request, at cost, to the
> >	 Primary Copyright Holder."
> Unfortunatly, this clause has the "distribution" versus "deployment"
> problem, and thus fails to close the ASP loophole.

Yes, you're right, that shouldn't've been there.

This detailed wrangling is really missing the point that I'm interested
in, though. Is there a _fundamental_ difficulty with such licenses?

	"If you have created a modified version of the Work, and receive
	 a request by the Primary Copyright Holder, you must provide
	 a copy of your modifications as at the date of the request in
	 source form, at cost, to the Primary Copyright Holder."

Assume that's interpreted in the obvious manner -- I write a program,
you use it extensively and generate some local modifications, I come
along, give you $100 for the time and materials cost, you give me the
changes you've made. Ignoring corner cases, and so forth.

First, does that cause any problems for Debian? I think we already satisfy
it quite readily.

Does it make it anything you might want to do with free software
technically any more difficult? I don't think so -- you have to be asked
by the original author, and they have to cover your costs in fulfulling
the request.
 
> It seems to me that compulsory provision of source code to people to
> whom the modified version has not been distributed, or are not in the
> distribution path, is wrought with danger. 

That seems a, uh, somewhat overwrought description.

The "dissidents" can just move their crypto keys to /etc/cryptokey,
instead of including it in the source, and simply not have a problem. (As
a mental exercise, try replacing "The Chinese Dissident Test" with
"The Al Qa'ida Terrorist Test")

The companies who want to include NDA'ed, patented or secret technology
in programs have pretty much the same problem they'd have if they were
using the GPL, and needed to distribute such programs to their customers;
so I don't really see that as a big problem either.

> Don't get me wrong, I dislike the idea of seeing GPLed code utilized
> in ASP where there is little to no contribution of modifications to
> the community, but perhaps we should concentrate on using social
> pressure against those who would avoid distributing source versus
> legal pressure?

A number of companies, and the FSF, want to see this "loophole" removed;
I think we should be _very_ sure of our reasons before dismissing their
attempts.

Basically, as far as I can see, the dissident test is exactly equivalent
to saying "we don't want to close this ASP loophole thing". What
I'm not seeing is a justification for this; and, generally, I don't
see that as being any different to the BSD versus GPL debate. Is the
ability to distribute software without letting the recipients modify it
important? Maybe, maybe not, either answer is okay. Is the ability to
derive from free software and run a business off it, without having any
risk of having to contribute your changes back to anyone else important?
I can see reasons to say yes, and reasons to say definitely not; I can't
see why we can't leave this up to the developers of individual programs.

Cheers,
aj

-- 
Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

  ``Dear Anthony Towns: [...] Congratulations -- 
        you are now certified as a Red Hat Certified Engineer!''

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