[vworld-tech] Modern MUD server design

Jeremy Noetzelman jjn at kriln.com
Thu Jan 22 12:38:21 PST 2004

On Thu, 22 Jan 2004, Patrick Dughi wrote:

> 	There has been sort of a minor revolution, though I can't point
> to the roots of it; there is much emphasis by NONE of the major players
> to make the next version of the GPL the 'Affero' license, found here;
> http://www.affero.org/oagpl.html.  I've gone into some depth with the ..
> poor wording, and lack of definition with this license which is, in a
> nutshell, GPL with the same rights for users of network software as
> those who execute the software.
> 	In other words, if a MUD were put under the Affero license, any
> player can require that you provide them the current existing code, and
> of course any additional software, code, or mechanisms required to make
> it 'go'.  It doesn't specifically cover data files, scripts, or other
> items, so those are up in the air.

This isn't consistent with a reading of the license itself or the FAQ.  It
would seem it only applies when the program (MUD in this case) has a
facility to download the source:

(From http://www.affero.org/oagf.html)

Q: How does the Affero Public License differ from GPL V2?
A: The "one additional feature" - Section 2(d) reads as follows: " 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."

Q: How does this license protect the author?
A: In addition to other protections already in place by the GNU GPL V2,
the new download source function is non-removable under the license. Each
author who makes derivative works and runs the work publically must not
remove the download source functionality. This enables the original
author, in this case Affero, to download the source and receive the
benefit of any modifications to its original work.

This would seem to indicate that if the Affero GPL licensed code you use
has a 'download source' button, then you have to provide the source to the
entire work.  Otherwise, it's no different from the GPL.

I do know that lots of people are pushing for the GPLv3 to treat networked
users the same, but this AGPL isn't it.

I could, of course, be wrong, as IANAL.


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