OSD modification regarding what license can require of user

Lawrence E. Rosen lrosen at rosenlaw.com
Sat Mar 16 00:53:49 UTC 2002

Hi Eben,

I appreciate the attempt of the FSF to bring ASP uses under the
publish-the-source requirements of the GPL.  It is certainly within the
rights of a licensor to impose those conditions upon licensees and
downstream distributors of modified code.

My concern is only with the interaction of that requirement with Bruce
Perens' proposed OSD change.  How are we to decide, a priori, whether a
license condition imposed upon a licensee is  reasonable or burdensome?
Is it reasonable or burdensome, as you proposed, to require users who
are ASPs to release their versions with a "download server source"
button prominently located on pages every user sees?  All pages?  What
are permissible requirements without exceeding the bounds of good taste?

I look forward to reading your actual license text.  

/Larry Rosen

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Eben Moglen [mailto:moglen at columbia.edu] 
> Sent: Thursday, March 14, 2002 6:12 AM
> To: Emiliano
> Cc: rms at gnu.org; bruce at perens.com; nelson at crynwr.com; 
> brian at collab.net; license-discuss at opensource.org; board at opensource.org
> Subject: Re: OSD modification regarding what license can 
> require of user
> 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 announcement.  
> 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?
>   Emile
> --
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