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Re: Do Debian's users care about the AGPL?

On Wed, 03 Sep 2008 00:30:10 -0700
Steve Lamb <grey@dmiyu.org> wrote:

> Daniel Dickinson wrote:
> > On Tue, 02 Sep 2008 22:14:48 -0700
> > Steve Lamb <grey@dmiyu.org> wrote:
> >> Daniel Dickinson wrote:
> >>> Why should it be non-free?  It's not, it should be in main!
> >>     Probably because it goes way too far?  I'm sorry, but the GPL
> >> is clear. If you distribute the code.  No code is distributed
> >> here.  The code runs *there*.  People call this a loophole.  I
> >> call those people
> > It's a loophole.  As a I developer I'll be choosing the GPL because
> > it means that if someone takes my code and modifies their changes
> > flow back to the original project (whether still developed my
> > myself or not, hopefully by a community in any event), so that
> > others can benefit from it.  Not making the changes flow back is
> > known as 'free riding'.  
> > If a company can take my work, make proprietary enhancement
> > (including, say, a new proprietary file format), and profit from it
> > I wouldn't be happy.  That's not why I contribute to open source.
> > I'm not just giving my stuff away, I'm giving it away on the
> > condition you give back if you make changes to my stuff.
>     Then you've missed the point of the GPL.  I hate to break it to
> you but it is perfectly legal under the GPL for a company to take
> your code, make modifications to it, and turn a profit on that.  The
> only caveat is that *if* they distribute it they have to also
> distribute the source.  If they don't distribute it, if they keep it
> in house, they are under no obligation to distribute that source to
> other people because those other people are not using it.

I'm aware of that.  The GPL isn't perfect, it's just the closest thing
to doing what I want.  In practical reality once you make sure that
users of the software have the right to changes, most users who want to
make changes find it in their best interest to collaborate with the
community than develops the software.

>     Short form.  Code runs on their machines and only their machines,
> no need to redistribute the code.

Which is the thing.  GPL guarantees freedom the users of the software.
The AGPL says that the user is the one writing the documents with the
software is the user not the one running the code.  I agree with the
AGPL on that.

>     ASP is applications running on their machine.  Some people call
> this a "loophole".  I call it the very reason many companies have
> turned to Open Source for many of their needs in the first place.

I don't follow.  If you mean ASP turned to Open Source because they get
free (as in beer) software that don't have to share, then I'd argue
that is an example of a popular loophole, no a robust example of the
benefits of libre software.

> Jeopardizing that is restricting freedom.  It does it in the very

Jeopardizing ensuring rights of user to control their own software is
restricting freedom?  I don't think so.  Of course we disagree on who
the user is, so I mean a different thing by that then you.

> same way that many collectivists have done over the years.  "We're
> all one big happy family and we share.  If you don't share we'll MAKE
> you share whether you want to OR NOT!"  The problem is the words in
> caps.  Freedom isn't just about the happy-go-lucky moments but also
> the moments when someone goes against your grain.

I disagree with you interpretation of the license in this regard, and I
probably disagree with your definition of freedom as well.  The
definition of freedom as shown in the GPL and AGPL are what counts
here, and opinion of which definition of user is accurate.

[snip off-topic political commentary, some of which is right and some
which isn't]

And that's my crabbing done for the day.  Got it out of the way early, 
now I have the rest of the afternoon to sniff fragrant tea-roses or 
strangle cute bunnies or something.   -- Michael Devore
GnuPG Key Fingerprint 86 F5 81 A5 D4 2E 1F 1C      http://gnupg.org
The C Shore: http://www.wightman.ca/~cshore

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