raw output


By jacobo, on 2007-11-20 at 20:58, under General

If I think that the FSF did the wrong thing, is there any way in which I can display my opposition? Can I become a negative member? Can I make an antidonation: get them to give me money?

Update: In other words: I think that the AGPL is not free. Clause 13 is a restriction on usage. I’m very disappointed. (And the GPLv3 is not a high note for the FSF either).


There are 11 comments for this post.

  1. Comment by Anonymous, on 2007-11-20 at 21:48 | permalink

    If you’ve ever signed one of their copyright assignments, or used an “or later” license, you could potentially complain to them saying that you feel they violated their statement about new licenses keeping the same spirit as old ones. If you felt strongly enough about it and felt like giving yourself a permanently bad reputation with the FOSS community, you could go after them legally over same. Depends on what you hope to accomplish.

  2. Comment by Kevin Mark, on 2007-11-20 at 22:49 | permalink

    Not knowing exactly what you think is wrong, I’d say this:
    why would the FSF not listen to constructive criticism for its community?
    If you assigned a copyright license that you now don’t like, you can change it AFAIK.
    If its about the AGPL, its about Software-as-a-service. I’m not sure who would use this license but I don’t expect anyone to use it, at least not in the immediate future.

  3. Comment by mako, on 2007-11-20 at 22:53 | permalink

    You can write to the FSF and tell that you disagree.

  4. Comment by Joe Buck, on 2007-11-20 at 23:28 | permalink

    To anonymous #1: an “or later” license for the GPL would not be affected by the AGPL, which is a different license.

  5. Comment by Jacobo, on 2007-11-20 at 23:53 | permalink

    Mako: oh, yeah, they’ll read my email and be shocked because someone was disappointed by something they did, and then they will start thinking about why I felt motivated to write that message and email me back to ask me about my concerns and then they’ll amend the AGPL to address them.

    Or they’ll just put the email in the “proprietary software advocates” folder.

    Putting a restriction on usage on their license, that’s not something you do by mistake after a couple of years of public consultation.

  6. Comment by 1052, on 2007-11-21 at 03:45 | permalink

    The obvious question is: why?

    Is it not clause 13 the whole point of the Affero License?

  7. Comment by Simon, on 2007-11-21 at 04:20 | permalink

    I’m with comment 1052 - the whole point of the GNU Affero GPL is to prevent people keeping the source to software provided as a service, whilst providing an Affero like license which is GNU GPL 3 compatible.

    They have scope to improve the license in later versions, if you can propose a better scheme for meeting the intended result I’m sure they would revise the license. However parts of 13 are a given; users who don’t know the system they are using is covered the the GNU AGPL need some sort of notice. Since it isn’t clear that the end user of such systems are software users in the traditional sense, the GNU GPL v3 is inadequate, and extending the GNU GPL v3 to cover such cases would be too strong. Similarly since these third party users are accessing software being used by someone else, the insistent it be redistributed is always a restriction on use no matter how it is redistributed.

    So whilst you could relax the wording around redistributing, it will always be a restriction on use in some sense, simply because it is redefining who the freedoms should apply to.

  8. Comment by Anonymous, on 2007-11-21 at 11:20 | permalink

    In response to Joe Buck’s comment that ‘an “or later” license for the GPL would not be affected by the AGPL, which is a different license.’: if you licensed code under GPL v2 or later, then you expect your code to continue to have a strong copyleft, and you expect the license to continue to prohibit works which based on both your code and proprietary code. Now, along comes the GPLv3, which explicitly (clause 13) proclaims compatibility with a license you consider proprietary (the AGPL).

  9. Comment by 1052, on 2007-11-21 at 13:01 | permalink


    “Starting from a false assumption, anything can be concluded.”

    The AGPL has a stronger copyleft than the GPL. It assumes that distribution also includes interaction through a network, and thus requires to allow the user to get the source code. Clause 13 *is* a restriction (whether on usage or distribution depends on how you define the terms). But it doesn’t follow that it makes the license non-free. (The GPLv2 also has restrictions). So, yes, the GPLv3 allows works to be combined with one specific license with a stronger copyleft. So, what? That you don’t actually want to give the source code back to the user? So what is the point of using the GPL in the first place?

    The GPLv3 also allows to incorporate code licensed under the Apache License. So if I consider the apache license proprietary, then the GPLv3 proclaims compatibility with a proprietary license!! OMG!! Front-page in Slashdot!! (please, notice the sarcasm marks…)

  10. Comment by mako, on 2007-11-21 at 13:13 | permalink

    The only use that the AGPL prohibits is proprietary software develop based on free software where users of software do not have access to source.

    The real good that this license will do will, in my mind, be more than outweighed by any harm done by forcing companies to jump through the hoops of giving their users the source code to the application. It’s never been easy under GPL but it was, and continues to be, a price worth paying.

    If you know of examples where this requirement will create a large onus with real harm. Please let me know of them.

  11. Comment by MJ Ray, on 2007-11-21 at 16:32 | permalink

    The AGPL is a non-free-software licence because it restricts the freedom to adapt the software to our needs too much. It also enables addition of extra restrictions to the GPL, through the compatibility clause in GPLv3, thereby killing one of the unique selling points of the GPL. The GPL is no more a copyleft licence, thanks to AGPL-taint.

    FSF bods say that no-one has to use AGPL, but that’s only a choice that initial developers get to make. By releasing such an AGPL, FSF condemns us to yet more waves of Not Invented Here wheel-reinvention.

    If you want real examples of where this requirement will create an unacceptable cost, see what people are posting to discussion@fsfeurope.org and what has been posted to debian-legal in the past.

    Finally, the AGPL tactic is a massive distraction from ensuring user control over software-as-a-service. It misleads some users into thinking that open source is the same as freedom is the same as trustworthiness.

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