Affero GPL. Big loophole?

Forrest J Cavalier III forrest at
Thu Mar 21 05:48:33 UTC 2002

"Free Software Foundation Announces Support of the Affero General
 Public License, the First Copyleft License for Web Services"

(NOTE: The FSF suggests comments to them.  I CC'ed them, but
I'd prefer discussion in a forum.  license-discuss seems

Please, someone tell me how I am misreading the added clause

Where are the teeth? In my reading, the essence of the interesting
part of clause 2(d) is
      "must offer an ... opportunity ... to request
       immediate transmission ... of the complete source code."

I find it _extremely_ odd that it does not compel transmission.
(Other GPL terms are clear that you must supply source code. This
clause is different.  Why?)

If compelling the transmission is the goal, why is the license
clause only compelling the "offer of opportunity to request"?

Is this on purpose? Why create a huge loophole when it could
have been written clearly?

As an exercise, could someone explain why the following response is
_not_ compliant with 2(d)?

int main(int argc,char **argv)
   printf ("We received your request for the complete source code.\n");
   printf ("<BR>AGPL 2(d) does not obligate us to supply it when responding.\n");
   printf ("<BR>Have a nice day!\n");

Here is the added clause 2(d)  (reformatted line breaks,
anyone have a .txt copy?)

* d) If the Program as you received it is intended to interact with users
through a computer network and if, in the version you received, any user
interacting with the Program was given the opportunity to request
transmission to that user of the Program's complete source code, you
must not remove that facility from your modified version of the Program
or work based on the Program, and must offer an equivalent opportunity
for all users interacting with your Program through a computer network
to request immediate transmission by HTTP of the complete source code
of your modified version or other derivative work.

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