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Re: The Show So Far

Anthony Towns <aj@azure.humbug.org.au> writes:

> > Anthony Towns is quite right that it is illegitimate to argue "this is
> > a genuine pain, so it must be non-free".  
> I think there's a difference between having people be *unable* to hack
> on the software (in the case of the desert island, or the broke student),
> and having people be *unwilling* to hack on it (in the case of Microsoft
> and the GPL, or the protestor and the QPL).

Let me think about this paragraph and get back to you.  (I think I
know what to say, but I'm not sure yet, and I want to think more.)  I
say *this* only because I don't want you to think I deleted it without
really noticing.

> The AGPL makes it *impossible* to use the code in a system that can't
> run an HTTP server; whereas patch clauses, changelog requirements and
> little notices when run interactivity, while rather annoying, don't get
> in the way of anything really useful.

It sounds here like you agree with the notion that "genuine pain" is a
good secondary test.  

> > By contrast, forced publication requirements *are* an imposition
> > on freedom.
> Please stop with the argument by assertion.
> The GPL is an imposition on freedom. It's an imposition on your freedom to
> distribute binaries without source. It's an imposition on your freedom to
> convert non-interactive programs to interactive ones. It's an imposition
> on your freedom to make changes without having to document them.

Did you write this before reading the "why the GPL's source
requirements are not an imposition on freedom"?  In any case, I'll

GPL's source requirement: this implements the freedom of the recipient
of the binary; otherwise you could grant the recipient the legal right
to modify the binary, but you'd be using a technical subterfuge
(compilation) to frustrate their exercise.  Still, it is an imposition
even then; the technical costs should be taken in to account.  Since
the "ftp site" exception is there, and the "send in a coupon later to
get source" option is there, any pain is negligible.

The interactive notice and the documenting changes are generally
regarded as not being a genuine pain.  Yes, they *are* infringements
on freedom, but are they *material*?  I think not, though there are
some who have recently suggested that the interactive notice
requirement might be more a genuine pain than we thought it to be

> The validity of the "dissident" and "lawyer" tests are under
> question. Given that they want to keep their source code secret, they're
> in pretty much the same situation as Microsoft -- and our answer to
> Microsoft is that they're welcome to use free software, but they'll need
> to check their licenses.

I'm not sure they want to keep it secret, per se, as much as they want
to share it only with their friends.  They *are* happy to say that the
*software* is free: that if you have the software in any form, you are
legally entitled to do all the things with it that the four freedoms
speak of.  

> > 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.
> That would imply that all GPL clients for which there are no GPL servers
> are undistributable. I don't believe that interpretation has any legal
> justification, either; there is simply no copying or modification
> taking place.

I suspect here we are at cross purposes; I mentioned in a separate
post that I think there are at least three different things all being
called "the ASP loophole", and it seems likely to me that we are just
addressing different cases.


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