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Re: Barriers to an ASP loophole closure

tb@becket.net (Thomas Bushnell, BSG) writes:

> The point is that the alleged "user", even if he has the source to
> what's behind the web page, *can't* change it, because it's on a
> computer beyond his control, on the other side of that connection.
> Giving him the source does *NOT* make it possible for him to change
> it. 

Sure, but he may still want to know how the source works, or he may
want to replicate the same functionality elsewhere.

But even so, I'm not saying that everything that could possibly be
construed as "use" should have access to source tied to it.  If my
dentist uses copylefted accounting software to send me bills I don't
necessarily get access to source.  That kind of "use" is outside the
kind of use we want to pick out.  And I acknowledge that picking out
the right kind of use will be hard.  But if the dentist were using
copylefted accounting software via a web interface, it does seem
reasonable to argue that he ought to have access to the source.

But you still haven't answered my question: *IF* it could be done (and
passed the other two tests I mentioned in my other message), would it
be free?

>> In the case of a web page it makes as much sense to say that the admin
>> is using apache as it does to say that the viewer is -- more, imho.
> Exactly.  But the Affero bit says that the *viewer* is the "user", and
> that the source has to be given to the *user*.

It's pretty clear (to me, at least) that the Affero bit doesn't work.
Not only does it restrict the sorts of modifications made, but it
doesn't pick out the right sort of uses to attach the freedoms to.
(Arguably, it's a clever attempt to avoid that question by pushing it
off on the author, but that causes problems of it's own.)

So are the tests I outlined sufficient?  Do they provide a good
framework within which to decide whether an attempt to close the ASP
loophole is free?  Certainly nothing proposed so far passes these
three tests, but if something did (and didn't have any other problems
with it) would it be OK?

I've quoted the relevant section of my previous message here:

> But if someone could jump all the hurdles: 
> * Find a way of laying out who the users of software are that
>   matches our intuitions on the subject (we'd have to think very
>   carefully about edge cases here),
> * Find a way of safeguarding the important freedoms (including
>   access to source) for these users,
> * And do all this without increasing the burden on the distributor
>   (or software provider) beyond that which the GPL already places
>   (e.g., passes the dissident test, no restrictions on modification,
>   etc).
> If all of this could be done, would the license be DFSG free?

Jeremy Hankins <nowan@nowan.org>
PGP fingerprint: 748F 4D16 538E 75D6 8333  9E10 D212 B5ED 37D0 0A03

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