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Re: Affero General Public License

Glenn Maynard wrote:
> On Tue, Feb 07, 2006 at 02:10:23PM -0800, Josh Triplett wrote:
>>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.
> Although the "interface is such that" bit feels a little awkward, this
> is a step forward.  If I use a source file from eg. Apache in a tiny
> embedded device, allow me to supply the source (that won't even fit
> on the device, never mind that the device has no I/O suitable for
> sending source) on an included CD.

I'm assuming here that this "tiny embedded device" is not a product
being provided to users, right?  That case is already covered by
GPLv2 and GPLv3 without the need for any clause of this nature:
distributing a product containing GPLed code is distributing the GPLed
code, and thus you must provide the source code, which you may on an
included CD or via a 3-year offer.

So you're talking about a "tiny embedded device" which interacts with a
user but isn't distributed to that user?

> It excludes from "users" (still
> ill-defined) people who don't "interact", which is an improvement.

I'm inclined to say that we can leave "users" undefined here, and rely
on the common-sense definition ("people who use the software"), because
we're defining a particular set of uses, namely "interaction".  Even
with the broadest possible reading of "users", you still take the subset
of those who interact with the software.

The more important issue is the use of "interact", as you mentioned:
> What about supermarket self-check-out, ATMs, self-service gas stations,
> toll booths, voicemail, arcade machines?  Software interacts with users
> in every way imaginable ...

Well, to start with, it sounds like you agree that there's a subset of
"interact" which is free, namely "interact over a computer network".
That alone would cover many of the cases people care about when they
want this type of clause, so going with that option is worth
considering.  Going slightly broader, in most cases it doesn't seem
particularly problematic to provide a 3-year-offer or a CD; in many of
the cases, the source distribution mechanims must already exist in order
to provide source to those who originally put those fixtures in place.

- Josh Triplett

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