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Re: Barriers to an ASP loophole closure

Jeremy Hankins <nowan@nowan.org> writes:

> Anthony Towns <aj@azure.humbug.org.au> writes:
>> This detailed wrangling is really missing the point that I'm interested
>> in, though. Is there a _fundamental_ difficulty with such licenses?
> Is it users of programs or owners of copies of programs that should
> have freedom?  As far as I can see the answer is clearly users.
> Currently those two groups are roughly the same, and the second group
> is *much* easier to draw a line around.  So we use ownership of a copy
> to pin freedoms to.

The two groups are vastly different.  As has been mentioned upthread,
I use the power regulation software at Boston Edison, I use the 911
dispatch system (and indeed, the phone switching system) in my town, I
use the typesetting software of my local paper when I e-mail them a
letter and it's sent back to me.  I don't see why I should have the
right to Slashdot's source code -- or this mailing list servers, or
the kernels of the routers inbetween, but not to that of the Boston

Since I'm pretty sure that I *don't* have a right to the software of
the Globe, given they wrote it in-house and have (for the sake of
argument) not distributed it, I trace that back to say that even in an
ideal world, I don't have a right to the software in a router I don't
own, or to a web server I'm simply accessing.

> If they can find a way to tie the freedoms of the DFSG to users of
> software rather than possessors of copies of software, should that
> make their software non-DFSG-free?

Maybe.  I don't believe it's possible to delineate users in a way that
doesn't discriminate strongly against fields of endeavor or against
particular technologies.  I think your three tests summarize what's
needed pretty well... I just don't think they're mutually compatible.

Moving on to your solutions:

> So we have three meta-options:
> * Decide that freedoms *should* attach to copies rather than users

There's something to be said for that option.  Here's a further
extrapolation of the ASP nightmare for you: everybody who writes code
makes it available only on their machine, in some .NET horror by which
code is patched at runtime via RPC... so I want to set up a
webserver.  It uses Apache.NET, Zope.NET, ZWiki.NET, Perl.NET, and
each of these (and each Perl module and Apache module) lives on its
own separate server.

To what are the users of my site entitled?  My glue code?  The kernels
of each of these servers?


Brian T. Sniffen                                        bts@alum.mit.edu

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