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Re: web hosting providers' modified .debs

jidanni@jidanni.org writes:

> Just curious, e.g., dreamhost.com modifies Debian .debs to produce
> their hosting environment, which we Dreamhost users then use on our
> shell accounts there.
> If I can do
> $ cat file
> then I should always also be able to cat the source (.deb) to that
> same cat, no?  (I can at present.)

I'm not sure what you're asking. I *think* you're asking about whether
Dreamhost are obligated to provide the source code of their modified
operating system to you, and I'll answer based on that assumption.

The answer depends on whether Dreamhost are, under the relevant
jurisdiction, distributing the modified work to you. It could be
argued that they are not: they are merely using the modified work, and
allowing you to access a machine they own; thus, the modified work is
not distributed to you, so no obligation is triggered to give you
access to the corresponding source.

Of course, there is a sense in which Dreamhost *is* "distributing" the
modified work to you, but I'm pretty sure no jurisdiction's copyright
law would see it that way. This is the "Application Service Provider
(ASP) loophole", which the Affero GPL is intended to close (on works
to which the Affero GPL is applied).

I'm pretty sure there is no existing judgement that holds an act like
that of Dreamhost is an act of distribution of a modified work. I
don't know of any jurisdiction where it would be so.

I hope that helps. If your question was about something else, please
clarify so we can give a better answer.

 \         "If life deals you lemons, why not go kill someone with the |
  `\  lemons (maybe by shoving them down his throat)."  -- Jack Handey |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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