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Re: Dissident versus ASP

On Wed, 19 Mar 2003, Stephen Ryan wrote:

> On Wed, 2003-03-19 at 14:52, Jeremy Hankins wrote:
> > * If no changes have been made to the source, a URL to upstream may be
> >   sufficient.

I don't think this is workable.  First, it presumes the upstream allows 
you to (ab)use it's bandwith this way.  Second, it makes you responsible 
for ensuring the service level of the upstream.

There's also an issue WRT what "changes to the source" means in this 
context.  It's almost impossible to install and run most software without 
modification.  These are modifications you never distribute, but allow 
"users" to access via your service.  They include configuration files, 
passwords, data, etc.

> > * 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.

Same issues as above.

> > * If even distribution of patches is onerous, include a written offer
> >   option, ala the GPL.

The written offer option stinks.  Ok, that's a pretty weak 
counterargument, I'll think more about this.

> > * Going yet farther, a license may include a time delay (of one month,
> >   for example) before source distribution is required.

This is interesting, but I don't understand what problem it solves.

> > 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 will.  The written offer is way to burdensome for me to even consider.  
The other options are not compatible with GPLv2.  If I provide a 
low-bandwidth service which uses both GPLv2 and your proposal, I'd have to 
provide full source to just about everything on my box.  When I get 
slashdotted, I might survive because I'm only sending small amounts of 
data to each visitor.  If I try to provide source, I crash AND I infringe 
copyright because some people were able to use the service but not get 

> 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".  

Any license that discriminates for or against commercial entities violates 
DFSG#6 anyway.

> 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.

Further, attempts to show that this isn't a major inconvenience in the 
common case are irrelevant.  It's a major inconvenience in some 
(perhaps) uncommon cases, and that is enough to keep such a requirement 
Mark Rafn    dagon@dagon.net    <http://www.dagon.net/>  

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