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Re: Web application licenses

On Thu, Aug 12, 2004 at 10:32:56AM -0700, Josh Triplett wrote:
> True.  The question becomes: is it too onerous?
> After all, people have said the GPL is onerous.  Consider the reference
> card scenario.  Either you distribute source at the same time (which is
> extremely onerous for a reference card) or you use the "offer valid for
> three years" approach (which is not considered the Free option in the GPL).

Well, the measure of my personal opinion is whether I'd cease using and/or
modifying a work because of a requirement.  I don't expect Debian to comply
with that, but I hope it's a relevant data point.  If Apache required me to
distribute source if I used it as a server, I'd immediately stop using it and
I'd never consider contributing to it, because I don't want to have to serve
a local mirror of the Apache source in order to use it.

> > "Point them to ftp.debian.org" no longer works if I had to modify a couple
> > lines of code to get the thing to compile, so I don't think that avoids
> > the fact that the above is overburdensome.  It's also risky; if ftp.debian.org
> > goes down, I may be in violation of the license indefinitely, unless I happen
> > to notice.  Also, ftp.debian.org doesn't keep source for all old packages
> > around; if I don't upgrade my testing machine, my binary won't match the
> > source on that server, and I'll be in violation.
> snapshot.debian.net then.  And don't forget that you are allowed to
> recoup your costs of performing source distribution.

(That doesn't address first couple points.  I don't want to expose myself
to liability based on Debian's servers remaining where they are.)

I don't think Debian's archives are relevant, because they no longer help
when I've made simple modifications.  It makes the case of using the software
unmodified easier, but the case of using it modified is just as important,
and there won't always be a free third-party mirror available--the existance
or lack of an FTP server can't sanely change whether a license is free or not.

I think that, for this discussion, we should assume every piece of relevant
software is modified, since that's the hardest case to get right.  If you
can get that case to work, unmodified use should be easy.

> > In practice, none of this, when applied to binary distribution (GPL), has ever
> > been a serious problem for me: binaries and source tend to be of a similar
> > magnitude in size--making a 5-meg source available with a 5-meg binary is
> > generally not a big jump.  Making a 6-meg source available with a 10k
> > source file, however, is different by several orders of magnitude.  I
> > would not use Apache if it was under this type of license; it fails my
> > personal "pain in the ass" test.
> I can think of many cases where the source is larger or more onerous to
> distribute than the binary.  Consider the case where the binary is in an
> embedded system. Also consider the case when the "binary" is a printed
> book, or a reference card, or a printed handout.

I don't think requiring distribution of source that's 600 times the size
of the actual data being served by the daemon is reasonable at all.

All of this aside, this still looks like a use restriction.  Are there
any functional use restrictions which we currently allow?

Glenn Maynard

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