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Re: Final text of AGPL v3

(I wrote this message 2007-11-19 and somehow it ended up stuck unsent in an 
error mail-queue during a network-outage. I wasn't goign to resend since 
this thread is now old, but I didn't see anyone make the same points, so 
here it is...)

On Monday 19 November 2007 22:26:21 Francesco Poli wrote:
> >   Notwithstanding any other provision of this License, if you modify
> > the Program, your modified version must prominently offer all users
> > interacting with it remotely through a computer network (if your
> > version supports such interaction)
> This restriction compels whoever runs the modified version of the
> Program to [...]

Keep in mind, this only applies 1) "if you modify the Program" *and* 2) you 
do something with the program that would normally be restricted by 

Here is an example:

Say I receive a pristine AGPLv3 program. The person who gave it to me had to 
obey the terms of the AGPLv3 in order to distribute it to me, but I don't 
have to accept it just to receive and run the program.

I modify it (say to remove the capability of getting source code) and run it 
on my own computer, allowing remote users to interact with it. Assuming the 
output sent to the users is *not* a derived work (e.g. no AGPLv3 HTML 
templates, etc), there is no reason why I need any copyright license at 
all. Thus, I don't need to provide source code to my users. 

On the other hand, if I modified it, but left in the feature of the software 
to allow remote users to get the source code, now I *would* be obligated 
follow the terms of the AGPLv3, because I'm now distributing a modified 

So ironically, if there is an AGPLv3 work that already has the 
give-remote-users-source-code feature and I'm making modifications to the 
work, I'm obligated to keep that feature there, unless I remove it. I'm 
personally a fan of the GPLv3, but the AGPLv3 is quite weak in practice 
since it's very easy to work around for many kinds of programs[1].

[1] Again, assuming that the normal output of the program is not a derived 
work of the program itself. This obviously doesn't apply to *all* AGPLv3 

Wesley J. Landaker <wjl@icecavern.net> <xmpp:wjl@icecavern.net>
OpenPGP FP: 4135 2A3B 4726 ACC5 9094  0097 F0A9 8A4C 4CD6 E3D2

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