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Re: Web application licenses

Josh Triplett <josh.trip@verizon.net> writes:

> And obtaining GNU Emacs does not entitle you to run it on a gnu.org
> machine.  Why should this be any different?  You have control over your
> own boxes and what runs on them.  I have the same control over mine.  If
> you make software available, I can run it on my boxes, but not on yours
> unless you permit it.  This would still give me Freedom over the
> software I'm using; what you suggest would infringe _your_ Freedom to
> decide what software you run on your own hardware.

Some software, like Emacs or gcc, is mostly local.  Some software,
like traffic-signal control software, or homeland-security massive
database software, is useful only where it is; it is inherently
remote.  I have no interest in running my own Giant Database
Aggregator of Doom.  I just want to make sure *theirs* works right,
and doesn't compromise the privacy of citizens.

>>>* Allowing a user to log into your box and run the software.
>> So if I want to have a dialup server, it must include the source for
>> all its 
> This sentence seems incomplete.

Yes.  It should say something about all the dialup's software, or
maybe just software I've modified.

> Yes, you would have to provide source for the programs users may run on
> your server, if those programs are covered by this license, or are based
> on such software.  However, that can probably be handled for 99% of the
> software on that server by saying "Get it from *.debian.org".

No, I routinely modify all software I install and give those
modifications to others.  Those are both freedoms Debian wants to
guarantee, so a license can't be free if it restricts me from doing
them in any quantity.

For example, look at the response to the stoplight provision here:

> You really _should_ be able to get the source to everything you interact
> with that is under this license.  On the other hand, that is a good
> example of how the requirement might be difficult to meet.  Then again,
> the DoT can always choose not to derive their software from software
> under this license.

You're suggesting that some people might want to avoid modifying free
software and using it, because they don't want to bear the burden that
this would have.  That just doesn't sound like free software to me.

>> No, but if I don't have those things then I can't use the software
>> anyway.  
> My point is, you are asking for too much control over how the other
> party uses their hardware.  You should certainly have the right to use
> it on your own hardware; that would be more freedom than you have now,
> and certainly enough to consider it Free Software.  I'm sure that there
> is plenty of software in Debian main that neither of us could take
> advantage of for whatever reason.  That does not make the software any
> less Free.

True, but your argument for why they should have to give me copies of
their software is that to do so enhances my freedom.  I don't
understand why that argument applies to software and not hardware.  If
I implement an Emacs Machine, which provides Emacs but only in
hard-wired circuits, but in such a way that it's a derivative of a
work under this license, is it free to require me to give you one?  To
give you the plans?

Why is the answer different for software?


Brian Sniffen                                       bts@alum.mit.edu

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