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Re: Affero General Public License

On Fri, Feb 10, 2006 at 11:07:08AM +0000, Gervase Markham wrote:
> Glenn Maynard wrote:
> > But that's a special case; more generally, I don't see any way at all
> > of satisfying this for the "voicemail", "toll booth", etc. cases.
> > (Though the thought of someone corking up a toll booth lane on a busy
> > interstate to plug in a USB pen drive and download its source is
> > somewhat amusing ...)
> The difficulty here is that in the arcade machine/toll booth case, the
> person who (IMO) requires source access to exercise his freedoms is the
> machine _owner_ or toll booth operating company, not the player or
> tollee. An arcade owner isn't going to allow me to upload hacked
> firmware to his machines (sadly :-).

That's the "it doesn't help" argument: the argument that the distribution
of source to end users doesn't actually give them the freedoms that the
person who made the modifications had.

It's been argued for web services, too.  For example, Google providing
the source to its database engine would be cool, but it wouldn't let me
customize Google--only my own little useless copy of it, since I can't
install my changes onto Google.

> How do you distinguish between an arcade user and someone using a web
> application? Is it the presence of a network connecting the two?

I think that's an unnatural distinction.  Both web users and arcade
players are equally "users"; there are examples in both cases where
providing source helps and where it doesn't.  (I actually do know of
arcade operators who have let players mess around with their machines.  :)

Also, web services aren't the problem, they're just the most common
(today) example of a class of problems.  Narrowing the restriction to
web services means it's going to break down sooner or later, when a
different incarnation of the same problem shows up.  I think Josh's
offering is a step forward in generalizing this.  It still seems to
cause fatal practical problems, though, hence my examples of toll
booths and arcade machines.  But, given the choice, I'd much rather
see his version in GPLv3 than what's currently there.

Glenn Maynard

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