[lug] Google Chrome Linux "distribution"

Zan Lynx zlynx at acm.org
Thu Jul 9 11:02:28 MDT 2009

Davide Del Vento wrote:

> As a strong open source advocate, I think that we should use more and
> more the Affero license, instead of GPL, see for example this:
> http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#UnreleasedMods

Speaking about the Affero and the GPLv3 with the similar optional 

IANAL, etc.

I am not convinced that it is enforcable in the same way the GPLv2 is. 
It imposes end-user restrictions, not distribution restrictions, so, 
unless the end-user agrees to abide by the license, he is not obligated 
to follow it in any way.

Copyright means that the distributer who creates the copy must follow a 
license. The end user who receives that copy is under no obligations for 
anything unless there is a contract or at least a EULA click-through.

Content produced by a program (such as a web application) is not covered 
by copyright as a derivative work of the program merely by being 
produced by the program.  So a user of a web application is not 
automatically a distributor.

The Affero license seems to rely on modification of the program being 
enough to trigger copyright. But I don't think so. Undistributed 
modifications of a work are a fair-use right. At least, I am pretty 
sure. Claiming that modifications are a copyright violation triggers 
ridiculous restrictions on the ability of people to scrapbook magazine 
articles, scribble in their books, spray paint mustaches over the art 
they've bought, etc.

Unless lawyers can claim running a web application is a public 
performance of a copyrighted work. Maybe. I've never heard of that 
applied to software. The Affero license doesn't mention that, in any case.
Zan Lynx
zlynx at acm.org

"Knowledge is Power.  Power Corrupts.  Study Hard.  Be Evil."

More information about the LUG mailing list