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Re: Alternatives to the Affero General Public License

Hi Gregor. Let's see if I can understand your motivations, and help

** Gregor Richards ::

> > In response to "An interface to the program, not the program
> > itself" Am I the only person who fails to see this as a
> > significant difference?  I don't think the freedoms of Free
> > Software should be limited to people who actually have copies of
> > the software, but to all users of the software.

You have to have in mind that when you copyleft something, you are
not only (potentially at least) augmenting the commons freedom, but
you are also diminishing the individual freedom of your licensees.

What do I mean? Well, if you license your software under the
MIT/BSD, you have given maximum freedom to your licensee, at the
potential cost to the commons freedom, because your licensee can
improve your software and make a proprietary version. If you license
your software under the GPL, you potentially augment the commons
freedom (because if someone improves your software, the improved
version will necessarily stay free -- or not be distributed at all)
at the cost of removing some freedom from your direct and indirect
licensees. What the DFSG does, IMHO, is to strike a balance between
minimum and maximum commons and licensees' freedoms.

What has not being pacified yet, even here in d-l, is exactly if
access to the interface of a program is equivalent -- in terms of
the balance between commons and licensees' freedoms --  to the
access to the program itself. And *that* is the opinion you seemed
to express with "am I the only person who fails to see this as a
significant difference?".

I, for one, see a very significant difference between having access
to the program itself and to its interface... Including, but not
restricted to, a hypotetical dissident organization for which access
to the program (even in binary form) can reveal details of the
organization to the Evil Government that simple, plain access to its
interface (even in a publicly accessed server) can hide those

Your argument seems to be that there is no additional onus in giving
to someone access to some program when you are giving this same
person access to the interface of said program. I disagree, altough
not strongly.

> > it less than just a black hole.  I don't see why the right to
> > read the code behind this black hole of functionality should be
> > limited only to binaries physically on a system, and not to
> > programs running over a network.  And I think there's too much
> > weight being placed on the distinction between having a binary
> > on one's system and running it through other means.  Just my
> > opinion though *shrugs*

This is an interesting point-of-view. In fact, I see why many
consider the "public performance" thing a loophole in the GPL.

I regard, IMHO, the GPL as being (de facto, not by a guideline) the
borderline "commons versus licensees" case of a Free Software
license.  Explaining: not many more-restrictive-than the GPL
licenses are considered DFSG-free; even the GPL, if the licensor
chooses to use its clause #8 (geographic distribution limitation),
for instance, can be considered non-DFSG-free; and finally, many of
the onerous-to-the-licensee exceptions in the GPL are, by design,
reflected in the DFSG.

This fact adds a difficulty when you try to give the commons an
additional potential freedom, by onerating the licensee when he is
not distributing, but only publically performing the work -- and you
still want to consider your work DFSG-free.

To clarify a little bit more on the "public performance" thing: if I
GPL a song and establish that its partiture is the source code, if
you record this song and send your .mp3 around, you must make the
partiture available. If I license the same song by your new license,
if you want to go to the nearest square and play it aloud in the
guitar, you must make the partiture available also.  That is the
difference between distribution and public performance, and that is
why I think there is an unacceptable additional onus to the licensee
in the latter case.


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