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Re: Is AGPLv3 DFSG-free?

2008/9/3 Arc Riley <arcriley@gmail.com>:
> On Wed, Sep 3, 2008 at 2:23 AM, Don Armstrong <don@debian.org> wrote:
>> We only distribute source at the instant we distribute the binary. We
>> (generally[1]) don't distribute the source after we've stopped
>> distributing the binary. The AGPL requires distribution of source at
>> any time that the application is used. The GPL does not.
> The AGPLv3 only requires the distribution of /modified/ source.
> If Debian distributes their packaged version, and that version is served by
> a 3rd party for other users unmodified, that 3rd party is not bound by the
> distribution terms of section 13.  Note the phrase "if you modify the
> Program".

I guess that Arc is technically correct here. AGPLv3 in section 13th says:

"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)..."

So, legally, if Debian modifies the program, it can be released in the
same condition as it was with GPLv3, as Debian's package itself is not
being run, only conveyed, and thus there are no users interacting with
it. On the other side, a user that uses the program unmodified, does
not have to comply with this section unless they modify the program.
Thus, if Debian is the only one making modifications, section 13th
doesn't apply to any of them.

As we have already discussed [1], this might not always be like this.
Arc said that "It's of course impossible to cover every potential
scenario.  The FSF has said that they expect more frequent license
releases as the need arises.", so it's quite possible that this
scenario (having the possibility of using the fact that the user and
the person modifying it being different people to avoid section 13,
which would be quite trivial to do) might change in the future. I
guess that, even when Arc is right in that the current wording of
AGPLv3 lets Debian avoid having to keep an archive of all the versions
released, MJ Ray's concerns are quite real and they're something to
think about quite seriously.

[1] http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2008/08/msg00081.html

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