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Re: Should the ASP loophole be fixed? (Re: The Affero license)

On Tue, 2003-03-11 at 20:27, Thomas Bushnell, BSG wrote:
> David Turner <novalis@novalis.org> writes:
> > On Tue, 2003-03-11 at 00:21, Thomas Bushnell, BSG wrote:
> > > > Joe rebuilds the software to offer customers contracts over the web. 
> > > > Now, one of his customers says, "that's really cool, I want to be able
> > > > to do the same for my customers."  Ought that customer to be able to get
> > > > the source code?  You say no, I say yes.  We're at impasse
> > > 
> > > Why do you say yes?  "Joe rebuilds the software to print the contracts
> > > on pink paper.  One of his customers says 'that's really cool, I want
> > > to do the same for my customers'."  Why should Joe be obliged to
> > > distribute anything?
> > 
> > Because someone who just gets a piece of paper is in no sense a user of
> > the software, while someone who uses software over the web, is.
> Huh?  Nonsense.  You've played games with me, and I wish you
> wouldn't... 

I'm sorry you feel that way.  I don't intend to play games with you

> Indeed, you said you'd comment on the Affero bit if only I
> change the thread, and you mostly ignored my most serious posts until
> that thread got changed to its current title, and even then, you pay
> attention to only the smallest bits, and seem not to want to
> understand the basic position I'm putting forth.

Can I try active listening?  I understand your position to be:

1. Licenses are Free Software licenses iff 
	a. They infringe no fundamental rights
	b. They have no excessively onerous terms

2. Fundamental rights include the right to deny to users of the
software, access to source code for the software.

3. Thus the AGPL is non-free.

4. Fundamental rights include the right to deny to *non-users* of the
software, access to the source code for the software

5. No visitor to a web page is in any sense a user of the software which
generates and serves that web page.  So, the AGPL is non-free.

6. Even if these fundamental rights didn't include (2), the AGPL's
(2)(d) is an excessively onerous term.

7. So, the AGPL is even more non-free.


Is my interpretation incorrect?  If so, please correct me.

I disagree with points (2), (3), and (5), primarily. I agree with point
4 entirely.

> Still, I'll keep trying.  "Someone who just gets a web page delivered
> is in no sense a user of the software that delivers it."  

I disagree with this statement.

> Why is the medium of delivery of the message the key factor?

I think primarily because of the level of interactivity supported by the

> What about Google?  Am I a user of google's software?  


> If I got the
> source, how would I be able to change it and thus improve my
> google-using experience?

See my comments in other threads about why this is the wrong question to

> > Of the AGPL if *nothing* about your system were changed except the
> > licensing of all of the currently GPL'd software were changed to AGPL? 
> > I don't think so, since there's no (2)(d) code in any of that software.
> > But if there were (2)(d) code, ought you to be required to give these
> > friends copies of the source code because you're letting them run the
> > binaries?  In that case, I say, yes.
> If all you are saying is that I should comply with the licenses of
> software I copy, then of course.  If you are saying that therefore the
> license is a free software license, you are blowing smoke.  

I'm not saying "therefore" -- I'm stating more a premise, here, which is
(again): You ought to be able to obtain source code for applications you

> > No, I only want *users* to be able to obtain source code to the programs
> > they use.  I guess my example doesn't really follow, though.
> I thought I
> understood what a "user" was, but it turns out I don't.  All I can get
> from your cryptic comments is that a user is someone you think should
> get the source, but you can't really tell me what makes someone a
> user.
> I think the word has almost no usable definition, though I'm happy to
> be proved wrong.

Here's a start:
A user is one who causes requests or commands to be issued to an
application via an interface, which is the proximate cause of some
action on the part of that application.

If I tell (via lpr) a print spooler to print a story, I'm issuing it a
command.  When I give the printout to someone else, no commands or
requests are being issued.

When I search on google in the most ordinary way (via the form at
http://www.google.com), I'm requesting that Googlebot give me answers. 
It might refuse, for instance, because I've asked too many times in the
last five minutes.

When I grep my mail spool, I'm commanding bash (say) to issue to grep
the command to run this regexp over those files.

When I get cash out of the ATM, I'm requesting via a few buttons that it
give me some money.

When I get on an airplane as a passenger, I'm *not* requesting that the
navigation computers do their thing.  There's not even an interface

If I sign up for telephone service via the web (and choose to get bills
mailed, rather than emailed), and this causes a request to be issued to
the billing system, I'm using that system.  Note that I don't
necessarily expect any license to cover this case.  

I think we can have a discussion about this, tho.  

-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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