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

Hi Steve. This is the first of your emails in this thread that I've seen
make it to the list. Have you and Daniel been conversing off list, or is
something wrong on my end? (I've seen several of Daniel's replies to
you, but none of your emails.)

Steve Lamb wrote:
> [...]
> Lets take a simple example, Google's web-based spreadsheet.  Who is
> using the software, you or Google?  Answer: Google.

Your idea of "user" is strange to me.

> [...]
> 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?

Yes, that's the spirit of Free software that the GPL and AGPL tries to

> 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 definition.
>     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?

I don't think anyone is suggesting that casinos should use AGPL licensed
software on their slot machines (it would probably make gaming the
random number generators and so forth too easy). But if a casino for
some reason DID use a modified form of AGPL licensed software on a slot
machine, then yes, the source should be available to any users of that
machine under the terms of the AGPL. There is nothing non-Free or
against the DFSG about that.

Remember, the GNU GPL and AGPL are aimed at protecting the freedom of
*users*, not of vendors.

>     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.

Again, that's a non-intuitive definition of "user". In context of the
AGPL, the user is the person interacting with the software over a network,
not the entity responsible for running the software. Here's an excerpt
from Section 13 of the AGPL:

"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."

> 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.

I understand why some people wouldn't want to participate in the Free
software movement (less profit to be found here). But I disagree that it
would be bad for society if the source to things like ATMs were open and

- Chris Burkhardt

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