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First IRC meeting wrapup

by Brett Smith Contributions Published on Oct 11, 2007 04:56 PM

Work on the GNU Affero General Public License version 3 is starting to wrap up. The feedback we've received has helped us understand which issues in the license are confusing for readers. I don't think the license itself is going to see much change as a result—it would be impossible to hammer down every single one of these issues, and it's generally counterproductive to try—but we are going to try to address those concerns through other means, such as our FAQ.

As part of that process, last Thursday night the FSF Compliance Lab held an IRC meeting to discuss all things related to the GNU AGPLv3. We discussed various different issues surrounding the upcoming license—in addition to clearing up some of that confusion and answering specific questions about what the license requires, we also talked about how various groups have reacted to it, possible business models, and more. Here are a couple of excerpts:

<bcs> fjl asked: <fjl> One of the comments/questions on the posted draft was why does the AGPL not take the approach of requiring source if the program is "Performed" for the public. That seems the obvious approach to both the writer and myself. Is it because that would somehow turn it into a contract and not copyright issue?
<bcs> The issue with talking about Performance is, quite simply, that nobody has any idea what it means to "perform" a piece of software.
<bcs> I'm not sure, but I doubt that even Eben would venture a guess.
<bcs> It is appealing, because it does provide a clean solution. But it's tough to conclude that it's legally sound. We'd rather go with something that's a little more complicated, that we know works, than something that's clean but functionally ambiguous.
<thd> Eben has also said in the past that performance has little conformity of treatment in copyright law internationally.
<bcs> I'd forgotten about that, but you're right, yes, thanks.
<fjl> I had assumed it was running it, analagously to performing music from a script or libretto or whatever it's called. I thought this was somewhat legally established interpretation (IANAL, of course)
<bcs> fjl: That interpretation would make sense to me -- but I've been told that there is no legally established interpretation.

<johnsu01> NZHeretic asked, Is part of the problem that the Business sector recognize the business model usage for GPL/LGPL but not for the AGPL. Might it not be a good idea to produce some study to show where the AGPL would be truly useful to Businesses ( Keeping a commons open )?
<bcs> I doubt we need to do that. I think a few companies are going to do that for us.
<_ivan> <--
<bcs> For all we were slagging on companies earlier, there are a few who are very interested in the AGPL. Like all the companies who sell SaaS to other companies.
<_ivan> that's me :)
<bcs> Like _ivan's company, yes. :)
<bcs> And companies like SugarCRM, and Alfresco, and Zimbra. I'm not saying they're all going to adopt AGPLv3, or have even noticed it, but they are looking at this issue.
<bcs> And they have a lot of voice in today's Web 2.0 bubble. So when they start talking about how important the AGPL, or something like it, is to them, others will take notice.

Thanks to everybody who came by and participated. It went so well that we're going to go ahead and do it again, this time at 18:00 UTC on Wednesday, October 24, in #gplv3-meeting on freenode. This will be a general question and answer session; feel free to drop by and ask any question about any GNU license, past, present, or future. We hope to see you there.

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