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Re: The Show So Far

On Wed, Mar 12, 2003 at 10:02:23AM -0800, Terry Hancock wrote:

> and you're starting to say that the GPL denies you the right to look 
> at http://www.microsoft.com with a free web browser, or http://www.fsf.org 
> with IE.

Not at all.

> What's the difference?  The distinction between a web protocol 
> (HTTP) and an RPC API (XML-RPC) is somewhat artificial, and definitely 
> legally fuzzy!

The main point to consider here is the intent of the person providing
the GPL client.  Remember that the GPL says it is ALWAYS ok to create
non-free derivatives of GPL works, if you don't distribute them at all.
This means that, even if you regard a remote website as an RPC call,
when the *user* combines the browser and server by typing in a URL or
following a link, no GPL violation can have occurred.

I was going to say something more about distinguishing between a remote
data source and a remote function call, but given CGI-provided web pages
I think it becomes fuzzy and is not at all needed to show why a web page
is ok and an XML-RPC call is not.  I think the GPL is already clear
enough to give us the answers we need here, precisely *because* it
doesn't refer to specific linking technologies; but I don't have time to
write about that right now -- hopefully later today.

> Now suppose I create a proprietary web site on a CD (not so popular anymore, 
> but still has uses), and I want to put Galeon, say, with sources on the disk 
> so you can read my site.  If it's a static site (I gather) you'll say this is 
> okay, but if the site has any active content (say a binary CGI), then you're 
> going to start saying I'm actually linking the code?

> What about interpreters?  I was under the impression that a Free interpreter 
> could run non-free code and vice-versa.  But that is even a tighter binding 
> than these RPC issues.

A Free interpreter -- not necessarily a GPL interpreter.  There are some
hairy issues with GPL interpreters that could indeed prevent Debian from
shipping GPL-incompatible scripts together with GPL interpreters, I

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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