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Re: Affero General Public License

<quote who="Jeremy Hankins" date="Sun, Feb 12, 2006 at 01:52:53PM -0500">
> "Benj. Mako Hill" <mako@debian.org> writes:
> > <quote who="Jeremy Hankins" date="Sat, Feb 11, 2006 at 10:34:48PM -0500">
> >> But the question of whether this is a use restriction or a
> >> modification restriction is an interesting one.  I believe that it is
> >> an attempt to accomplish a restriction on use via a restriction on
> >> modification.  The intent behind both the AGPL and GPLv3(7d) is fairly
> >> easy to summarize: don't offer this software as a service to others
> >> unless you also offer the source.  Unfortunately, offering the
> >> software as a service to others is neither copying nor modification.
> >> So any attempt to put this restriction naturally into a license will
> >> be a use restriction (or possibly a public performance restriction).
> >
> > Under this logic, copyleft is also a use restriction. It bars
> > proprietary use of free software.
> No, it doesn't.  Proprietary use (i.e., use of private modifications) is
> very much permitted -- if it wasn't the ASP loophole wouldn't be an
> issue.  In fact, licenses that don't permit private changes (e.g.,
> through forced distribution) have been considered non-DFSG free in the
> past.  What copyleft prevents is proprietary distribution of software.

So, I think we agree that this is a modification restriction
attempting to protect users freedom to modify and redistribute their
software. But in the text I quoted originally we were talking about
the *intent* of the license. You claimed that because the modification
restriction *intended* to block proprietary use, it was a use

Perhaps you don't share my belief that classic copyleft is designed to
block proprietary use and the only reason that distribution was the
"hook" was that distribution was (a) very meaningful in terms of
copyright so didn't require a contract, etc and (b) always happened
before someone used the software. I believe that RMS's statements and
position in regards to the AGPL and GPLv3(7d) support my position in
this regard. I think that given the current way technology is
deployed, GPLv3(7d) is appropriate in that it takes both my (a) and
(b) above.

In other words, I'm saying that classic copyleft is a distribution
restriction that was intended as a use restriction on a narrow class
of "use" (i.e., distribution that ended up taking away *users*
freedom). Because the distribution requirement was not too onerous and
because the purpose was in the interest of freedom, the community was
willing to accept it. I don't see how the goals behind the GPLv3(7d)
is fundamentally different. Clearly the mechanism is now modification
and the precise language may be more problematic but I don't see how
this is fundamentally different.


Benjamin Mako Hill

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