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Re: Barriers to an ASP loophole closure

bts@alum.mit.edu (Brian T. Sniffen) writes:

> When I say you're a user of router software, I'm not pushing the
> definition of user any further than you are when you say I'm a user of
> PHP-nuke or Apache.

Well, we disagree then.  I admit that in some sense I'm using the
router on my local subnet (and, in some sense, so is google when I
load their page).  But Apache and PHP-nuke are progressively mare
reasonable senses of "use".  But even there, I'd be happy with a
definition of "use" that excluded Apache, and possibly even PHP-nuke
(which I'm mentally replacing with slash or scoop, since I'm not
familiar with PHP-nuke).  The sort of thing that is clearly the kind
of use I want to pick out and attach freedoms to is things like
uploading source and downloading object files way of using gcc via a
web interface.

> I think he'd say he doesn't use either.  But then when I asked him
> what he used to read his mail, he'd either say "Oh, I use Netscape"
> or "Oh, I use Yahoo! mail".  I've observed a number of the
> nontechnical users I support failing to distinguish between their
> OS, browser, home page, and other web sites.  I'm not sure we should
> be guided by such opinions, though: it would be nice to meet the
> expectations of the uninformed masses, but given the choice of their
> expectations, which are often internally inconsistent, and the
> expectations of those who will actually be modifying or distributing
> code, I'd rather satisfy the latter.

But you're not likely to satisfy either completely.  And the
terminology of the coders are likely to vary even more than that of
the masses, depending on what sort of coding they're doing.

It's perfectly reasonable to say that you use Yahoo for your mail.
And if Yahoo's webmail software were based on copylefted code, the
original author of that code would be right to be upset that Yahoo is
making improvements and letting others use the improvements without
letting them have access to the code.  In principle it's perfectly
reasonable and Free (IMHO, of course) for the license to require that
Yahoo let folks who use Yahoo mail have access to the source to the
webmail software.  Nobody's yet shown that it can work in practice,

> In particular, it seems to me that drawing a technical distinction
> among users (i.e., to say that users at a console or over an IP
> network are users who get source, but users via sneakernet or over a
> voice telephone link are not) is unwise.

But we're already making that distinction based on the technical
detail of the location of the media holding the binaries.

> Oooh.  Neat point.  So if I access a site -- even just far enough to
> try to authenticate myself and be refused, then use that refusal in
> some computation -- I can demand access to the source.  That's no
> good.  This very quickly hits the case where "If you make it available
> to anyone, you must make it available to everyone," which I think we
> all agree is not acceptable.

You're right.  That's something to be careful of when evaluating an
attempt to distinguish users from non-users.  If a potential user is
barred from actual use of the software, he's not actually using the

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

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