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Re: Dissident versus ASP

On Wed, 2003-03-19 at 14:52, Jeremy Hankins wrote:

> You may want to go back and reread the message in question, I have a
> feeling you saw the bit about folks with big pipes and didn't read on
> about folks with smaller pipes.
> I gave suggested several ways in which things could be made easier:
> * If no changes have been made to the source, a URL to upstream may be
>   sufficient.
> * If changes have been made and upstream incorporates them, a URL may
>   still be sufficient.
> * If upstream doesn't incorporate the patches, distribution of patches
>   along with the URL of upstream may be enough.
> * If even distribution of patches is onerous, include a written offer
>   option, ala the GPL.
> * Going yet farther, a license may include a time delay (of one month,
>   for example) before source distribution is required.
> I don't see that combination of options an onerous, even for folks
> with small pipes.  Do you?  If you think so, tell me who's going to
> have trouble meeting *any* of these requirements.

(I'm assuming we're still talking about a hypothetical future version of
the GPL, since people who license under BSD/MIT/X type licenses aren't
too likely to care about "closing an ASP loophole".)

The current GPL doesn't allow anything like these.  No URLs, no
patches-only, no pointers to someone else hosting the source.  You (the
party distributing the binaries) must also distribute the *full* source
from the same place as the binaries, or you must provide a written
offer, valid for at least three years to provide the full source at
cost.  Providing an ASP is often done commercially because bandwidth and
hardware aren't free in either sense of the word, so the "pass along"
option is forbidden to such people.  Even if I'm just doing it for some
friends and some of them pitch in some money to help cover the bandwidth
bill, that probably counts as "commercial".  

This isn't a matter of "a few K of patch files".  This is a matter of
tens to hundreds of MBs of *full source*.  The GPL FAQ explicitly states
that pointers to "upstream URLs" are not a valid way of meeting the
license demands, and gives (good) reasons as to why patches and pointers
to other's copies of the source are not appropriate.

Stephen Ryan                                        Debian Linux 3.0
Technology Coordinator
Center for Educational Outcomes
at Dartmouth College

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