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Re: The Show So Far

[note: ASP stands for Application Service Provider, and an example ASP
is provided further down in this message]

On Tue, 2003-03-11 at 15:49, Thomas Bushnell, BSG wrote:

> Why a Forced Publication Requirement is Not Free
> ------------------------------------------------
> The basic reason here is "for the same reason a forced-disclosure of
> your tax returns" is not free.  Even if it's only on request, even if
> the requestor offers to pay your costs, it's still not free.  We
> wouldn't tolerate the one, we shouldn't tolerate the other.  We
> wouldn't accept "you must chant the Hare Krishna".  Adding a
> restriction, is an impingement on freedom.  But free software licenses
> do have restrictions?  How is that OK?  Read on.
> Why the GPL is free
> -------------------
> But then why is the forced distribution of source ok which the GPL
> requires?  Because this actually augments the freedom of the recipient
> of the code.  

Doesn't this depend on which "recipient" you're talking about?  Note
that sections (2)(b), (3), (6), and (7) reduce the options of
distributors, for the purpose of increasing the options of

(2)(d) reduces the options of those who modify, for the purpose of
increasing the options of users.  The cases are analagous (although I do
not argue that they are identical).

> Note that the GPL only forces distribution of source to the actual
> recipient of the binary.  That's because while an arbitrary third
> party might surely benefit from having the source, you aren't using a
> technical trick to keep them from modifying it.

And isn't the ASP thing just a technical trick to keep users from
modifying the software they use?

[snip two-pronged "imposition on freedom" / "genuine pain" test]

> The ASP loophole
> ----------------
> We have already said that, in the context of the GPL, static linking
> and dynamic linking both make a "single program", and anyone who
> distributes that program, in parts or as a single whole, with the
> intention of distributing that "single program", must comply with the
> GPL as to each of its parts.
> The "ASP loophole", it seems to me, is merely another technical means
> for a dynamic link, and should be subject to exactly the same
> requirements as for all other kinds of dynamic linking.

I think we need to separate two cases: the ASP loophole, and the RPC
(remote procedure call) loophole.  I'm willing to believe that
distributing a program which calls functions in  another program over
RPC, creates a derivative work of both.  But I honestly have no idea
what a court would say about this.  So, that's the RFC loophole.

But this interpretation does nothing to close the ASP loophole, in which
no software is distributed at all.  For instance, a modified version of
GCC hooked up to the web, in which you upload your software for
compilation, and download the compiled version.

-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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