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Re: Affero General Public License

<quote who="Steve Langasek" date="Mon, Feb 06, 2006 at 11:32:18PM -0800">
> > Several people, at least, have spoken up in favor of this sort
> > of clause being both in the spirit of the GPL and the DFSG.
> Well, the discussion in March 2003 on debian-legal included the
> input of an ftpmaster who disagrees, so this definitely isn't a case
> of a fringe minority on -legal holding sway.

Anthony also claims that the GPL linking provisions may be
over-reaching.  I respect Anthony's opinion on these issues and I
respect yours but I don't think any of our positions in the project
give us any more power to speak the project as a whole.

> Perhaps you'd care to comment on
> <http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2003/03/msg00380.html>, then?

Anthony's comments primarily pertain to the specific language of the
AGPL. Most of this langauge has been removed or generalized in the
GPLv3 draft. I agree that AGPL language is clumbsy. I'm not sure if
it's non-free.

I *do* think that the spirit behind the AGPL and Affero-inspired
clause in the GPLv3 is fully in line with our principles. *Users* of
software should be able to modify their software.

Anthony also includes are some more general critiques of the rhetoric
used by the author of the Newsforge article which I agree with

> That doesn't mean Debian can't reconsider this position, of course,
> but I don't think the presence of an AGPL-like clause in GPLv3 is
> grounds for reversing that position -- closing the "ASP loophole"
> causes real problems for real applications that our users use Debian
> for today, and our users are supposed to be the first priority,
> yadda yadda.

It has been argued that providing users of software with source code
of the software they are using is in the best interest of those
users. That was, after all, an argument at the core of the free
software movement and is certainly reflected in the DFSG.

The only reason "distribution" is a central concept in free software
licenses is that it's a particularly meaningful concept in copyright
and was always co-present with "use" a couple decades ago when these
licenses were forged.


Benjamin Mako Hill

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