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Re: Is AGPLv3 DFSG-free?

2008/9/3 MJ Ray <mjr@phonecoop.coop>:
> "Jordi Gutiérrez Hermoso" <jordigh@gmail.com> wrote:
>> 2008/9/2 MJ Ray <mjr@phonecoop.coop>:
>> >  "Would a licence that required me to give a copy of the source at my
>> >  expense if I let someone use the application on my laptop meet the
>> >  DFSG?"
>> Why is this a question that matters for the AGPL? Are you saying that
>> the condition of distributing source over a network could be
>> prohibitively expensive?
> This question matters if - as some claim - there is no longer a useful
> distinction between network and personal computing.

Although I think the spirit of the AGPL is to significantly blur that
distinction, it clearly doesn't, as for example it excludes a network
interface from its definition of "convey".

If on your laptop you modify the software and you lend your laptop to
someone, then you haven't conveyed the work unless that other person
can copy the software off your laptop, and you could always restrict
access to that if you don't want to convey the source.

If on the other hand you let the other user interact with your laptop
through a network (say, they ssh into it), then clause 13 of the AGPL

> I am wondering (I am undecided, remember) whether the condition of
> distributing source over a network has an unavoidable cost.  I don't
> think the size of that cost is important.

If there is an unavoidable cost, you can transfer the cost to third
parties like code hosting sites.

>> Please correct me if I'm strawmanning you, but this is ridiculous.
> I'm not sure whether it's strawmanning me, but I feel it's a bit close
> to a personal attack.  I've bared my thoughts and all I got was this
> lousy ridicule.

Sorry, I get excited, but I wasn't trying to ridicule you, just claim
that an idea (that happened to be yours) was ridiculous. Hate the
idea, love the idealer? ;-)

>> I don't understand why embedded systems have anything to do with it.
>> You just have to put the code up somewhere on some network server if
>> you are distributing your application's interface over a network. The
>> server hosting the code doesn't even have to be your own, just put it
>> on Sourceforge or one of the zillions code hosting servers out there.
> I think then you have to make the embedded system phone home and check
> that the source source is still up before it offers network service.

The AGPL provides all of the same terms as the GPL for conveying
source before you provide a network interface. What could be done with
the embedded device is to very briefly send a message over the network
(bluetooth or whatever) that says "check your distribution, we already
provided the source." I think the phrase "through some standard or
customary means of facilitating copying of software" allows this, but
maybe I'm stretching the meaning of that phrase.

Also, instead of providing a link to where the source can be found,
the embedded device's network interface could say "contact this
person, this group, meet me at the docks at 4 AM, come alone" and then
that other contact could provide the source over a network, since all
the device has to offer is an "opportunity". Or you could do both,
check this site, and if that fails, try this contact.

>> I don't see a conflict with the dissident test either; [...]
> I'm not sure it does either, although I note that both Savannah and
> Sourceforge (for example) have terms that require one's real name.
> Which services allow anonymous hosting?

I just found a few. Sharesource.org and Intuxication.org only require
an email address (Sharesource.org has a field for name, but you can
leave it blank), and intuxication.org doesn't even require the email
address to be valid (I just registered right now with a@a.com). The
service freehg.org doesn't require any of these. Alternatively, you
can always put a pseudonym in the name fields.

- Jordi G. H.

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