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Re: selling web application access

On 9/21/06, Sean Kellogg <skellogg@gmail.com> wrote:
On Wednesday 20 September 2006 15:51, Ben Finney wrote:
> Ottavio Campana <ottavio@campana.vi.it> writes:
> > Scenario: a software house develops a web application based on GPL
> > software. It doesn't sell the application to customers, it sells the
> > access to the application, which is installed, run and is maintained
> > on the software house's server.
> It's this situation (the "Application Service Provider loophole") that
> the Affero GPL was intended to cover, and the current draft of the GPL
> v3 now defines the term "propagate" that includes "making available to
> the public".
>     <URL:http://gplv3.fsf.org/gpl-draft-2006-07-27.html>

While it is true that the GPLv3 is making the issue more clear, the impact
remains the same.  The share-a-like provisions of GPLv3 only kick in when
one "conveys" the software, which the GPLv3 nicely defines as "any kind of
propagation that enables other parties to make or receive copies."  If all
you're doing is selling access to a service (propagating) and in no way allow
users to receive copies of the underlying code (conveying), the result is the
same as under GPLv3.

While the (current draft of) GPLv3 doesn't require you to give access
to the source code in this case, it does allow an additional
requirement which would require that (See section 7.b.4 below)

So in the end the result is quite different from GPLv2. With GPLv2 you
never had to give access to the source code in this case. With GPLv3
you need to check whether the code you received includes this
additional restriction or not.

From GPLv3, 2nd discussion draft[1]:
7. Additional Terms.
You may have received the Program, or parts of it, under terms that
supplement the terms of this License. ...
b. Additional Requirements.
... Only these kinds of additional requirements are allowed by this License:
4) terms that require, if a modified version of the material they cover is a work
intended to interact with users through a computer network, that those users
be able to obtain copies of the Corresponding Source of the work through the
same network session; or

[1] http://gplv3.fsf.org/gpl-draft-2006-07-27.html

Markus Laire
Disclaimer: IANAL

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