Re: Alternatives to the Affero General Public License
On Wed, 22 Jun 2005 09:58:07 -0700 (PDT), "Mark Rafn" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Before going too far down this road, see
> for some fundamental questions about where to draw the line on this
> requirement. Unless you're willing to say "all changes must be
> even if never released", it's gonna be tough to find a free way to
> that any publication in the absence of distribution can be required.
> On Tue, 21 Jun 2005, Gregor Richards wrote:
> > Because the AGPL has some implementation issues that make it possibly
> > incompatible with the DFSG
> Just to be clear: I don't think that the AGPL's incompatibility with the
> freedom level guaranteed by the DFSG is an implementation issue. It
> intenionally restricts my rights as a recipient/user/modifier more than
> something which claims to be free should do. It's not an accident or
> problem with the wording, it's the pure reason the author didn't use the
> GPL in the first place.
> > I've been trying to find an alternative that
> > would still protect source-code redistribution on line.
> I'm pretty sure you mean something other than "protect source-code
> redistribution". "force redistribution of modified source" is closer.
> > trying to write a special exception to the GNU GPL that would add this
> > without some of the practical problems,
> I'm afraid your task is impossible, as the problems are not "practical".
> They're due to the direct contradiction of what free software means.
> > If your work based on the Program is designed to interact with users
> > through a computer network
> "designed to" is an interesting question. What if it's not designed that
> way, but I make it do so via hackery or whatnot?
> Also, "users" may give you trouble. I write a lot of software that
> doesn't interact with users, but does interact with client programs that
> interact with hardware that interacts with users.
> Am I a user of software in my ISP's routers? Am I a user of their
> accounting system? How about if it emails me statements?
> > your work based on the Program must
> > prominently provide to all users who interact with it through a computer
> > network the opportunity to receive the complete source code for your
> > work based on the Program via that same network and the same protocol.
> Unworkable, but you give an out in the next section, so this clause will
> never be used.
> > At your preference, or if that protocol lacks the means to send the
> > complete source code to the user, your work based on the Program may
> > instead use the HTTP protocol for this purpose.
> Still unworkable. I want to use the code for some embedded use (say a
> bluetooth server in a mobile phone). There's no room to implement an
> server in addition. There's also no reason.
> Even if there were, fine: I use HTTP to make the source available, but my
> firewall doesn't let that through. The very fundamental problem you're
> facing is that you want to put a behavior restriction on the licensee
> must make source available in a reasonable way), but it cannot be done
> except as serious restrictions on the use of the software.
> > (Exception: if the
> > Program itself is designed to interact with users through a computer
> > network but does not normally provide this functionality, your work
> > based on the Program is not required to provide this functionality.)
> Can I modify the program so that my version is "not designed" to interact
> with users through a computer network? Can someone else then use the
> above exception to modify my version under the pure GPL?
> Mark Rafn email@example.com <http://www.dagon.net/>
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In response to "I'm afraid your task is impossible, as the problems are
not 'practical'. They're due to the direct contradiction of what free
The term "Free Software" is open to interpretation, the DFSG is not the
be-all-end-all of what is and isn't "Free". After all, according to
www.gnu.org , the Affero General Public License is "Free Software," and
I should think that history would give them precedence in making such a
decision. Just because it isn't "Free Software" in terms of the DFSG
doesn't mean that it can't be "Free Software" at all.
In response to "What if it's not designed that way, but I make it do so
via hackery or whatnot?"
Did that hackery modify the program's source code? If so, it is now
designed to work via a computer network. If not, well, I made no
attempt to close that loophole, that would add a huge amount of
complexity with little additional benefit.
In response to "Unworkable, but you give an out in the next section, so
this clause will never be used."
How is this unworkable? Certainly many, even most, protocols this would
apply to have this support.
In response to "Still unworkable. I want to use the code for some
embedded use ..."
How is this unworkable? To support the HTTP protocol to the degree of
sending source code does not require a full HTTP sever per se. Hell,
you could just receive input and ignore it until a blank line, then send
and make a suitable "HTTP server" in about 25 lines of code. Any device
with networking capability could support such a simplNobody said it
needed to support sending any other files, etc.
In response to "Can I modify the program so that my version is 'not
designed' to interact with users through a computer network?"
In response to "Can someone else then use the above exception to modify
my version under the pure GPL?"
Of course not. Nobody ever said that it defaulted to the GNU GPL if
your modified version was non-networked. This clause is still part of
the license, it just doesn't apply to you. When you redistribute it to
the next person, if they make it web-based, they will have to make the
source available again.
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