Copyright arrangements for a web project

Bill Allombert ballombe at
Thu Dec 12 23:50:40 UTC 2013

On Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 07:45:14PM +0000, Ian Jackson wrote:
> Bill Allombert writes ("Re: Copyright arrangements for a web project"):
> > I am fine with the stated purpose of the AGPLv3, however I do not think the
> > actual implementation is compatible with free software.
> Perhaps I haven't looked in the right places but either I don't see
> the same concerns as you do, or I haven't seen them, or I don't think
> they're relevant for the project I'm thinking of.[1]

I suggest you search in debian-vote. But I do not want to stir old grudge.

> Nevertheless your opinion is interesting to me because I want to know
> what people in general think of the AGPL.  So if you have concerns
> that would apply to such a project, which you think are more clearly
> expressed or more relevant to me than those I've already seen, I'd be
> interested to know.

Basically, there are three free software roles:
- Running the software
- Changing the software
- Distributing the software
FSF freedom 0 states that 'Running the software' is not regulated.
Standard free software licenses only regulate 'Distributing the software'. The
AGPL clause regulates 'Changing the software' in a quite ambiguous way.

The problem is that these three roles can be held by three different entities
and having the entity 'Changing the software' liable for the action of the
two other is unfair and dangerous. What happens if the entity 'Running the
software' uses a reverse web proxy that removes all reference to the original
project and source code, dynamically from the HTTP stream ?

> FYI the project is a substantial database-backed web application,
> whose infrastructure could easily accomodate a copy of its own source
> code, and with which users interact via web browsers and email.

Philosophically, I hold that the right to reuse code for completely 
unrelated purposes is part of the libre software definition.
A license being suitable for some applications but not others is not free
in that sense. 

> > But it is probably not the right venue to discuss the AGPLv3.
> Perhaps not.  But I don't want to use debian-legal whose focus is
> on DFSG compatibility and whose on-list consensus judgements don't
> always seem to align with the actual decisions of those responsible
> for these judgements within Debian.

Why do you assume I do ?

Bill. <ballombe at>

Imagine a large red swirl here. 

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