OSD modification regarding what license can require of user

Eben Moglen moglen at columbia.edu
Thu Mar 14 14:11:54 UTC 2002

We are helping a third party to incorporate our proposed solution to
the ASP problem in its own modified GPL for release very shortly
(probably within days).  Legal work is complete and only some
public information documents are not yet final.  Use in an
FSF-approved third-party license will be followed by inclusion of the
term in a draft of GPLv3 that we hope to release for public comment
later this year.

Our change is not a state secret.  Richard has described how it works.
If you want to make a new web application's code fully free in ASP
use, you release your first version with a "download server source"
button prominently located on pages every user sees.  The new license
provision extends GPLv2's rule that you cannot remove the copyright
notice display from an interactive program to say that if you modify
the code you cannot remove the "download server source" button and
functionality.  In this way, license terms constrain only
modification, in a fashion completely compliant with FSD and OSD.
Existing applications are unaffected.  New applications and new
versions of existing applications can be written so that someone who
offers application services must also distribute the conforming source
code to all users.

Because we have a partner here, I don't want to prerelease the text of
its license.  If you plan a release within a week, I will be happy to
give you my earlier drafts of the language, and help you to make a
modified GPL of your own.  The whole matter will be completely public
so soon, however, that you will almost certainly prefer to wait for

On Thursday, 14 March 2002, Emiliano wrote:

  Richard Stallman wrote:
  > I think these issues should be judged by the substance of the
  > requirement rather than by the legal hook which is used to impose it.
  > For instance, a requirement to make source available to users is
  > substantively a requirement of distribution rather than a restriction
  > on use.
  > At present we are planning to try to handle the ASP problem in the GPL
  > through a limitation on a certain kind of modification--that you can't
  > delete or disable a command that lets the user download source (if the
  > program has one to start with).  Lawyers we have consulted think that
  > will work.
  Any indication on when this would be available?
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