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Re: GR proposal: the AGPL does not meet the DFSG (take 2)


I would like to move the discussion to debian-vote where it belongs.
I'd like to apologize to have started this cross-post in the first place.
(please CC me).

On Sun, Nov 15, 2009 at 04:04:49AM +0100, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> > If you modify a GPL-licensed software and distribute the modified version in
> > source form only, you do not have any long standing obligation. This is not
> > the case here.
> That's not true. It says 'your modified version must offer', it does not
> say 'you must offer'. In other words, if you don't run it on the public
> Internet, there is no problem.

The idea was that if you distribute it in source form, someone else might start
to run the software on the public internet and then the 'your modified version
must offer' clause take effect.


> > So if you are as service provider, is the AGPL trivially bypassable by
> > having someone doing the modification for you but never actually
> > provide any service ?
> After thinking about this a bit more, I'm actually not entirely sure
> about my previous statement here anymore.
> Indeed, you would probably need to be providing the source of the
> version you're running, even if you did not make any local modifications
> yourself.

I strongly doubt that the AGPL put any kind of limitation/liability on merely
running the software, for various reasons:

1) Philosophy: the FSF stance is that
    *  The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).

2) Copyright law: mere copyright law do not allow to limit use of the software
once you legally have a copy, so you do not have to agree with the AGPL in
order to merely use the software, and so the AGPL cannot impose any
condition upon you. 

3) the AGPL text: Section 9:

  9. Acceptance Not Required for Having Copies.

  You are not required to accept this License in order to receive or
  run a copy of the Program.  Ancillary propagation of a covered work
  occurring solely as a consequence of using peer-to-peer transmission
  to receive a copy likewise does not require acceptance.  However,
  nothing other than this License grants you permission to propagate or
  modify any covered work.  These actions infringe copyright if you do
  not accept this License.  Therefore, by modifying or propagating a
  covered work, you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so.

So if you are a service provider, is the AGPL trivially bypassable by
1) not accepting it and 2) having someone else doing the modification for you
but never actually providing any service themself?

> > Assume this is web server. Are you suggesting it modify the page it serve to
> > add the notice ?
> It says "in a prominent place", not "with every network conversation".

It does not say either of that, it says 'your modified version must prominently
offer all users interacting with it remotely through a computer network'.

So it is not "with every network conversation", but it is "all users".

Bill. <ballombe@debian.org>

Imagine a large red swirl here. 

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