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Re: AGPL and Debian

* Joerg Jaspert <joerg@debian.org> [081129 11:26]:
> > All of those services are usually only for code that is to be hosted for
> > the public. I consider the claim that there will be enough hosting
> > services for people needing to put their personal modifications not
> > suiteable for a general public consumption and not interested in any
> > further work to be put in that project quite short sighted and hard to
> > believe once there will be some more of those projects and some more
> > people using them.
> if you are doing changes to the service that are not suitable for
> general public then you surely not let the public access them at all in
> the first place?! Otherwise they would be suitable for them and yes,
> then you have to offer a possibility to get to the source.

I strongly oppose the notion that the the right to run modified software
should be limited to nicely modified software. Often you need some
little modifications of the software you run urgently, then just
commenting some line heres and adding some hard-coded exceptions
elsewhere is the easiest way to go. I do not think that forbidding such
modifications or requesting extra costs to be allowed to do them still
qualifies as free software.

Current hosting services usually only have one project for a specific
piece of software with a limited set of people allowed to change it.
I don't see how "I do not want to maintain this software, I just need
this patch with a minor hard-coded modification hosted somewhere
so that I can run the software" gives you access to any hosting

Perhaps in some future there are hosting services that allow an
area where everyone can host their own branch of something. But I
do not know of any such thing yet and the rise of distributed VCSes
might even make that harder to implement...

Other problems with this "there are free hosting services":

* While there are quite many, I doubt their distribution on legal areas
are quite widespread. Things like decss (or some future similar stuff,
that falls in more areas under the more and more widespread "no
circumvention" laws) might quite easly reduce the options to the empty
set, even when in your country you are still allowed to.

* Persistence of service. No free hosting service will guarantee you
that it continues offering your source (especially for unmaintained
forks). Needing to monitor if the public server you use is still there
and cease your service once it goes away is not a risk your want
to have to list in your company's reports.

As an example consider some router[1]. When you use AGPL software in it,
having to add the full code to it's flash will be quite some cost
involved (while a CD or even DVD with the manual and the sources
is quite cheaply to add to the shipping).

What can you do in that case to fullfill §13 if the flash is to small
to hold the source? Ask all users[2] to setup a computer with the sources
from the CD and filling that's address in some field in the device?
Asking all users to not bill their costumers the connections to the
hosting provider of the source code?

Or if those users are not affected by §13, is the only cost involved
that people have to always outsource the modification of their software
so they are spared from having to offer access to the source?

	Bernhard R. Link

[1] Let's assume every software is AGPL and the router has some
webinterface where every user (and not just the one operating the
device) can interact with it, for example by adding firewall entries for
their own computer in it.
[2] Users here in the sense of those having bought the router and
possibly subselling internet access through it to other people,
which can change their firewall settings in the router's webinterface.

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