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Re: Affero General Public License

Benj. Mako Hill wrote:
> The second argument is it fails the much more generic DFSG3 "must
> allow modification" argument. Barring modification of the license and
> copyright statement seems completely uncontroversial for obvious
> reasons. Similarly, there is consensus that barring modification of
> significant pieces of functionality seems to encroach users'
> freedom. The GPL(2)(c) seems OK although there are a number of
> interpretations why that is.
> Many/most others have gone with the second argument and are saying
> that the problem is primarily with the way the AGPL has done it. I'd
> love to hear suggestions for a better way to do it.

I believe the AGPL fails the DFSG due to being technology-specific.  By
requiring HTTP, and requiring that you must transmit the source *via the
software itself*, it prohibits derived works which don't include an HTTP
server, failing DFSG3.  As a practical matter, it also makes it
impossible to distribute a compiled version which doesn't include its
own source in the binary package  (For that matter, a strict reading of
the AGPL and the words "must not remove that facility" might actually
suggest that you can't change that particular chunk of code at all, even
if you continue to offer the source via HTTP.)

Similarly, the compatibility clause in GPLv3,
> They may require that the work contain functioning facilities that
> allow users to immediately obtain copies of its Complete
> Corresponding Source Code.
has the problem of allowing a requirement for immediate distribution,
which is far more restrictive than the general source distribution
requirement for other types of distribution, and depending on the
interpretations of "immediate" and "users" (which in turn depend on the
license someone writes to fit this compatibility clause), quite possibly

A clause of this form which satisfies DFSG3 needs to avoid requiring
particular technologies.  Furthermore, it needs to avoid being more
restrictive about requiring source distribution to users compared to the
case of distributing source to those who have a binary distributing a
binary.  I suggest the following, phrased in the form of a GPLv3-style
compatibility clause:

They may require that if the work interacts with users, but the
interface is such that those users do not receive a copy of the
software, you must still satisfy the requirements of clause 6
("Non-Source Distribution") as though you had distributed the work to
those users in the form of Object Code.

- Josh Triplett

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