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

On 09/03/2008 08:42 PM, Chris Burkhardt wrote:
Steve Lamb wrote:
Your idea of "user" is strange to me.
Why? They're the ones using the software to provide the service. The person is using the service not the software. If they were using the software they would be running it on their hardware. It is not that hard of a distinction to make.

Your definition of "user" seemed backwards to me, because you use the word to describe the service providers rather than the users of the service. But after reading your email, I understand the distinctions you make between the user of the actual software (the service provider) and the user of the remote service.

You seem to have a three-entity model of the situation (1) the upstream developer of the software who licenses it to the (2) service provider (who you call the "user" of the software), who allows access to the program remotely to (3) the service users. You are in favor of the upstream developer licensing the software to the service provider by the terms of the GPL, so that the service provider can make improvements to the code, and if they decide to re-destribute that code to another service provider they will include their modifications per the terms of the GPL. But you don't think the service provider should be required to make those changes available to the users of the service. Is that correct?

Steve will answer for himself as he always does excellently, but that's what I think.

I can understand that. But I would argue that using (interacting with) such a service causes a binary to execute on the remote server, very much like invoking a local binary. The AGPL ensures that modifications to such binaries are contributed back to the community anyway. If I were going to code something like an on-line spreadsheet program, and I don't want a company like Google taking it as a base for their own proprietary program to run their service,

Why do you care?

then the GPL doesn't help me at all (even though that is the intended goal of the GPL). I need something like the AGPL. Which is why I think the AGPL should be an option and should be considered Free.

It's the wrong kind of freedom. It's your freedom to place a constraint on downstream developers that greatly restricts their ability to make money from their enhancements of your software. While I fully agree that you have the right to write software and release it for free and to ensure that the source code be free forever, I don't agree that you can place "that" kind of constraint on your downstream developers.

The AGPL should not be considered "free" because it attempts to eliminate a very important kind of freedom: vendor SaaS freedom.

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