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AGPL3 and client code

Hi All;

I have been talking (with the help of Patrick Ohly) to the folks at
Funambol about how the AGPL section 13 (about providing source to
clients [1] ) is meant to apply to e.g. client code.


After some discussion, the FSF has updated their FAQ to address this question.


I will quote the relevant text here:

     This should not be required in any typical server-client
     relationship. AGPLv3 requires a program to offer source code to
     “all users interacting with it remotely through a computer
     network.” In most server-client architectures, it simply
     wouldn't be reasonable to argue that the server operator is a
     “user” interacting with the client in any meaningful sense.
     Consider HTTP as an example. All HTTP clients expect servers to
     provide certain functionality: they should send specified
     responses to well-formed requests. The reverse is not true:
     servers cannot assume that the client will do anything in
     particular with the data they send. The client may be a web
     browser, an RSS reader, a spider, a network monitoring tool, or
     some special-purpose program. The server can make absolutely no
     assumptions about what the client will do—so there's no
     meaningful way for the server operator to be considered a user of
     that software.

If one accepts this as authoritative (and yes, I realize this not
obvious to everyone on debian-legal), then it would address one of the
major concerns of the last round of AGPL discussion. 

My question is whether the interpretation of "Section 13 does not
apply, unless you are using the code in Software as Service, in which
case it is not so unreasonable" would be enough to qualify software [2]
for debian main. If the FSF FAQ was not authoritative enough, I think
upstream might be willing to attach a clarification.

CC's are welcome, but not mandatory; I will followup via the archives (eventually :-) )


[1] Here is the text of AGPL Sec. 13 for reference

   Notwithstanding any other provision of this License, 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) 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. This Corresponding Source shall include the Corresponding
   Source for any work covered by version 3 of the GNU General Public
   License that is incorporated pursuant to the following paragraph.

   Notwithstanding any other provision of this License, you have
   permission to link or combine any covered work with a work licensed
   under version 3 of the GNU General Public License into a single
   combined work, and to convey the resulting work. The terms of this
   License will continue to apply to the part which is the covered
   work, but the work with which it is combined will remain governed
   by version 3 of the GNU General Public License.

[2] I am in particular thinking about 


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