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Re: Is AGPLv3 DFSG-free?



On Wed, 10 Sep 2008 20:36:54 -0500 Jordi Gutiérrez Hermoso wrote:

> 2008/9/10 Ben Finney <ben+debian@benfinney.id.au>:
> > "Jordi Gutiérrez Hermoso" writes:
> 
> >> And I argue that this extra cost is no greater than the cost of
> >> providing the network interface that's triggering this clause in the
> >> first place.
> >
> > This is plainly false: There is, at minimum, additional cost of
> > storage, additional cost of bandwidth,
> 
> I have been interpreting the AGPL, and so far have not been challenged
> on this interpretation, that these additional costs can be transferred
> onto third parties for whom the cost is probably negligible, like code
> hosting sites.

I think this thread already saw more than one explanation of why this
is not necessarily possible.  For instance:
http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2008/09/msg00016.html

> The protests I have heard on this point is that perhaps
> transferring these costs to third parties is not effective for various
> reasons (anonymity and whatnot).

The issue is not anonymity: the issue is that I could want to avoid
making the application public (and only distribute it to my remote
users).  Again, see the above-cited message.

[...]
> > and additional cost of maintaining those modifications over
> >  time.
> 
> For instances where the maintenance could be cumbersome, I think the
> alternative methods of providing source, such as all at once when you
> first transfer the software, could be effective.

Suppose I never first transfered the software: I just run the
application on my server.  Your alternative method does not apply.

> 
> How plausible is it that you have a server somewhere providing the
> interface but unable to provide the source?

Not all servers are http/ftp (or similar) servers.
My (modified) application could interact with its remote user through a
very simple network protocol, which does not support file transfers at
all.
I hope you are not arguing that forcing me to implement http/ftp
support complies with the DFSG...

> I have a hard time
> imagining such a situation, so I don't think I fully understand the
> impact of this protest against the AGPL. The cases of when the user is
> given a device that has a local network interface can be solved by
> giving the user the source on a separate medium when given the device;
> this seems like a negligible cost too.

Suppose I am not giving any physical device to anyone.
My (modified) application runs on a small resource-limited server,
talks a very simple network protocol (with no http/ftp support) and
has remote users on the other side of an ocean...
I don't think this is a particularly far-fetched example.

And anyway, a work cannot claim to be Free Software, while forbidding
some scenarios just because they are "weird".

> 
> > That's before we even get to the question of whether the AGPL allows
> > the corresponding source to be unavailable at a given point in time
> > when an person who interacts with the program at time T and then at
> > time T+X requests the corresponding source.
> 
> I am not sure. It might. The "opportunity to receive the Corresponding
> Source" might be an opportunity in the future. To sue, you would
> probably have to convince a judge that you were never given an
> opportunity at all.

An opportunity in the future?
Like "click here, and wait for some 10 or 20 years, to get source" ?


Needless to say, those stated above are my own opinions and concerns.
Usual (or useless) disclaimers: IANAL, TINLA, IANADD, TINASOTODP.


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