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Re: Alternatives to the Affero General Public License

grichards@ml1.net wrote:
> Because the AGPL has some implementation issues that make it possibly
> incompatible with the DFSG, I've been trying to find an alternative that
> would still protect source-code redistribution on line. 

"First, do no harm."

Any such license must, at a minimum, guarantee that any activity which is not 
restricted by copyright law, is not restricted by the license.  The AGPL 
fails that pretty conclusively by defining distribution more broadly than 
copyright law.

> If your work based on the Program is designed to interact with users
> through a computer network, 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
Well, at least you've avoided that problem by only restricting modified 
versions.  However, this type of restriction on modification may fail the 
DFSG (like GPL 2c, which is normally avoided because most programs *don't* 
emit that sort of message).

It would, in any case, require that (for example) an ssh daemon based on a 
work under this license provide source code to anyone using ssh to connect.  
Or perhaps to anyone *trying* to connect, whether or not they succeed.  Is 
this really desirable?

It also specifies "networks". Specifying implementation details in a license 
is always a bad idea.

A better version -- though it might still not be free, it's as close as I can 
think of to the AGPL condition while having an outside chance of being 
DFSG-free -- would work something like this:
* If you run the program in a manner such that it is intended to be used by 
the general public, and you do so in a manner which requires a copyright 
license from the program's copyright holder, then you must provide the 
opportunity to receive the source code for the program to any such user.

This attaches conditions only to the "undesired" activity -- not to 
modification, which can be done for many purposes -- and specifically avoids 
contaminating any activities which don't require a copyright license.

Note incidentally that to make a "GPL-like" license with more restrictions 
than the GPL, you must chop the preamble and use the FSF's permission to make 
a derived license.

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