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Re: The Show So Far

On Wed, Mar 12, 2003 at 04:34:11PM -0800, Thomas Bushnell, BSG wrote:
> Steve Langasek <vorlon@netexpress.net> writes:
> > 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.

> Right, so here's what I'll do.  I'll create a non-free derivative of
> GNU Foo, which adds a splendid text-manipulation function that many
> people want.  And I'll write a CGI so that people can type in text and
> my web site will run the modified GNU Foo.  I'll charge people money
> for this service, and never release my changes.  The original GNU Foo
> did make its source available over the web interface, but my
> modification does not.

> David Turner thinks this should be prohibited, and therefore the GPL
> should be changed to prohibit it.  You have said that as long as no
> distribution happens, it's fine.  Which is it?

Hmm, I think we've moved back from the RPC question to the ASP question
again. :)  *I* think it's fine if this sort of application is allowed by
the GPL; one certainly can't argue that a license that permits this is
somehow non-free.  I'm also inclined to side with you on the question of
whether a license that imposes this restriction is DFSG-free.  Why should
a different principle be applied to a GPL application with a web
interface made available to third parties for a fee than to, say, a GPL
application with a *human* interface made available for a fee?  If we try
to close the ASP loophole, what are the implications for the case where
someone asks me to run a grep command for them -- do I then have an
obligation to provide them the source to GNU grep?  If not, why should
a web-based ASP be treated differently?

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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