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Web application licenses [was Re: Choice of venue, was: GUADEC report]

Glenn Maynard wrote:
> On Mon, Jul 19, 2004 at 06:09:20PM -0400, Michael Poole wrote:
>>The exception I mentioned would be for web application-type software.
>>I am somewhat biased since the free software I write and maintain is
>>in that category, but I think it is justifiable for a license to
>>require that someone who makes a modified version of free software
>>operable by others also make the modified source available to those
>>users.  The hard balance there is between copyleft-style code sharing
>>and the burden imposed on operators of kiosks or embedded devices,
>>where users may not care about the source code (or who may request it
>>en masse to protest unrelated issues).
> I've seen general, vague agreement with this in principle, but I don't
> think anyone has come up with a license implementing this without creating
> lots of problems.

How about something vaguely like:

If you make the software or a work based on the software available for
direct use by another party, without actually distributing the software
to that party, you must either:

a) Distribute the complete corresponding machine-readable source code
publically under this license, or
b) Make the source code available to that party, under the all the same
conditions you would need to meet in GPL section 3 if you were
distributing a binary to that party.

"direct" handles the problem of needing to provide the software you use
to run a service business to the customers of that business; it limits
the obligation to software a user interacts with directly.  Part a)
makes it unnecessary to provide the software specifically to any given
user if you are already distributing the software publically; it is
there mostly for convenience of distributors.  Part b) covers the case
in which you are not distributing the software publically, but you are
providing it for use by another party; the reference to GPL section 3
avoids needing to explicitly specify all the ways you may distribute and
all the obligations regarding distribution.

(This clause is written as though it were to be used as part of the GPL;
if it weren't, it should be more specific about what "GPL" it is
referring to, or just include the relevant clauses directly.)

- Josh Triplett

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