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Re: Is AGPLv3 DFSG-free?

* Arc Riley <arcriley@gmail.com> [080828 10:53]:
> Since anyone can get a free, anonymous account at any number of free VCS
> solutions, and since a dissident only need share source with those they're
> already permitting remote access over a network to, I do not see any
> situation where this would cause a problem.

First, the dissident has to publish his code. This can be huge cost.
There is not many method to hide content in something that still cannot
be found when you know how exactly they work (and being found - not being
decrypted - is the dangerous thing here).

Secondly, even in more general layout there are problems. Publishing things
means you are liable for them - at least in many jurisdictions (and no
disclaimer text will help there). Sane juristdictions will protect you
if you give things away for free and use enough care. You will use
enough care anyway if you publish something for others (at least I
hope), but if you just want to run a modified variant with some little
hack to make it work on your machine, making this work can be quite
a bit of extra cost (and I want to see the judge that thinks "I never
before looked at it, I justed needed to run this service urgently and
this line would not compile and changed it. - No I never looked what
that function called would do and that it has some deletion code in
there" as a sign of enough care).

Even when you do not care about liability, there are many modifications
you cannot just publish. Putting passwords or private data directly in the
source code may not be good style or anything to be proud of.
But if the right to modify is limited to people being able to do
"beatiful" modifications, I cannot call that free.

> Really?  Let's look at some options;
> BerliOS - free.
> Gna! - free.
> Launchpad - free.
> Savannah - free.
> Sourceforge - free (with advertising)
> All of these services are extremely stable, I believe all have been in
> operation for more than 3 years, and these are only the most popular.  This
> is 2008, not 1998, nobody needs to pay to host free software anymore.

And how do you use them? Does anything of them support branches to
remote repositories? I'd also guess that such services are not very
happy about getting multiple projects, first injecting many megabytes
from another site, then doing an ugly patch and not responding to bug
reports or mails? (Assuming you have a shell there to get the megabytes
there from the original source, first downloading to you and then
uploading somewhere else is expensive in most parts of the world).

> I'll point out, again, the phrase "standard or customary means of
> facilitating copying of software" in section 13; it is neither standard nor
> customary for a modified version of code which is several gigs in size to be
> distributed in full.  We upload a patch or create a VCS branch for our
> modifications and the license is fufilled.

Sorry, but I see no way to make "an opportunity to receive the
Corresponding Source of your version by providing access to the
Corresponding Source from a network server at no charge, through some
standard or customary means of facilitating copying of software."
not say that the whole source code is available. Telling them an URL
of the original program and of a patch might perhaps be considered
enough, but having to stop your service when the upstream service no
longer runs or no longer contains the version is question[1], or only
to be prepared to react on this occasion, is not a negligible cost.

Hope that explains why I consider it non-free,
	Bernhard R. Link

[1] This does not need bad intent, upstream and upstreams server might
be in a country where some patent is found and they are no longer
allowed to run the server or place it on another one. (Which means that
they might no longer have a license, but why should that mean that you
are screwed?)

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