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Re: The Show So Far

On Thu, Mar 13, 2003 at 02:45:15PM -0800, Terry Hancock wrote:
> I'd also like to ask a clarification of scope question: Are we discussing 
> whether:
> 1) The GPLv2 should be interpreted to treat RPC calls as creating a combined 
> work?
> 2) The GPLv3+ should be altered to make RPC calls create a combined work 
> explicitly?

It probably doesn't and it probably shouldn't, respectively. This is a
matter for copyright lawyers to argue over, and seems completely unlikely.

> 3) Whether a license that interprets RPC calls to require release of server 
> source is DFSG free?

We know that requiring the release of source to all the users and to the
general public is non-free because of the technical burden compliance
would place on the person hosting the RPC-server.

We probably can't rule out requiring you to release the source in
principle, since the GPL does essentially the same thing.

We can probably accept requirements to distribute back to the author
on request as being free; but we'd want to discourage such clauses for
similar reasons to patch clauses.

I don't think anyone's come up with any other ideas that don't fairly
clearly fail the DFSG.

> So far, I'm just saying that I think requiring release of server if an RPC 
> call is made from a Free work is a "Bad Thing" on general principles.

That's not possible. If I write a server, and put it up one the web,
there's no law in the world that'll force me to release the source
code merely because someone happens to access it with some peculiarly
licensed software.

We can change the circumstances though, so that either:

	* I modified an existing server that has the peculiar license; and
	  am thus forced to release source somehow; or

	* I'm distributing copies of peculiarly licensed clients written
	  by others, having written the server; and am thus forced to
	  release the server's source too

We can *probably* get copyright law to cover both those cases (using
the exclusive rights to restrict modifications and public performance
or maybe exciting new developments like UCITA or something in the first
place; and regular considerations about distribution in the second place,
although you might have to drop the "aggregate works" exemptions).

> On Wednesday 12 March 2003 08:55 pm, Glenn Maynard wrote:
> > People who develop GPL code do so with the understanding that nobody can
> > take that code and make it proprietary.
> Well, yes.  But it does so by restricting redistribution, not use. 

It does so by using laws that we don't think are in our best interest for
our own gain; there are other laws that aren't in our best interests that
we could also potentially use for our gain...

> And use 
> restrictions are generally viewed (and I agree) as non-free and possibly 
> legally-impossible anyway, as a violation of copyright fair-use principles.

Distribution restrictions are generally viewed as non-free too, of course;
you can't say "You're not allowed to charge more than $10 to distribute
this program", or "You can't distribute this to Jews", or "You're not allowed
to distribute this compressed", and so forth.

The real question is what's in our best interests. Getting access to more
source code is definitely in our interests. Competing against proprietary
forks of our own work probably isn't. Letting ourselves try different
ways of encouraging participation probably is.

> Okay, touche.  But I'm *not* trying to argue against copyleft in principle. 
> I'm saying it isn't the only reason people share code.

No one's disputing that -- the BSDs are a thriving counterexample.

> The tricks that people have learned to make money from open-source software 
> (e.g. selling services instead of software goods), it seems to me, work both 
> ways: when you're selling the service, the open-source approach makes more 
> business sense.
> I don't know, maybe that's wishful thinking, but it *seems* reasonable.

Sure, that's an argument against the necessity of copyleft.

IMO, copyleft is a nice trick, but is only working to correct
irrationality in the market; not providing a rationale of its own. (I'm
not sure that made sense)


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

  ``Dear Anthony Towns: [...] Congratulations -- 
        you are now certified as a Red Hat Certified Engineer!''

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