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Re: Barriers to an ASP loophole closure

Jeremy Hankins <nowan@nowan.org> writes:

> 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 that's exactly the error we reprimand legislators and businesses
for: believing that a different medium requires new laws to make it
safe.  That I receive the output of software over HTTP should change
nothing from the cases where I received that output over a phone tree
or on paper.

> 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?

Yes... but I don't think I'm actually agreeing with you: I think the
only way to properly define the set of users who should get a copy of
the source is vanishingly small.  David Turner says I secretly want to
write proprietary software, but the truth is I don't see this as a
loophole: I see it as a use of the software which wasn't expected by
several authors, including the FSF, and to which they are reactively

That, in itself, makes a good argument for why the author should have
no ability to place an obligation on anybody under a Free Software


Brian T. Sniffen                                        bts@alum.mit.edu

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