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

On Wed, Sep 03, 2008 at 05:03:27PM -0400, Daniel Dickinson wrote:
> 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.

    Those users have not lost their freedom.  That's the distiction people
have lost.  Lets take a simple example, Google's web-based spreadsheet.  Who
is using the software, you or Google?  Answer: Google.  They provide you
*access* to that software but you're not the user.  Just as if you came into
my house, sat down at my computer and then thought just because you are poking
at software I've written and allowing you to access gives you any rights to
the source.  If I distributed that software to you then, yes, you would have
rights to it.  
> 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.

    No, they turned to it because they got free (as in beer) tools for which
they could create works which they could *choose* to keep in house if needed.

> 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.

    Exactly so.  The implications are far more profound than you think when we
take your definition of "user".

> 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.

    Really?  So the fact that you're provided access to a custom application
means you're a user and thus must have rights to the source code?  You do
realize how much software you're provided access to but aren't the user?  Let
me think off the top of my head of software which customers of mine have had
access to which fall under your overly broad interpretation of user in the
quest for the holy grail of restricting other people's uses to your narrow

    Room reseveration software.  ATM software.  Slot machine software
(Btw, you do realize most slots nowadays are computers, right?).  Patron
management software (better known as point systems).  Point-of-sale terminals
and, by extension, their servers.  In-room entertainment software.  Did I miss
any portion of a casino that the customer doesn't touch?

    It boils down to this.  The casino (and hotel) is using that software to
provide a service to the customer.  The customer is not the user of the
software even though they do "use" it.  Same thing for ASP.  That is why the S
is *S*ERVICE.  If you close this "loophole" for ASPs then you are, by fiat,
also demanding that any time you use an ATM machine you are using the software
thus have a right to the source code of said software.  If you don't see how
that could cause some serious problems for the adoption of OS tools to be used
to build those custom applications then you really don't understand what's
going on nor the motivactions of why people chose the solutions they do
outside of your narrow mindset.

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

    Tsk, it's all correct.

         Steve C. Lamb         | I'm your priest, I'm your shrink, I'm your
       PGP Key: 1FC01004       | main connection to the switchboard of souls.

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