Web services and free software

Bjoern Schiessle schiessle at fsfe.org
Wed Jul 18 21:10:41 UTC 2007

"Carsten Agger" <agger at c.dk> writes:
> This means that even when more and more free software becomes
> available, people might still become increasingly obliged to use
> non-free software through the web, or to use free software as web
> applications under conditions where the four freedoms don't apply. I'm
> sure the question isn't new and others could state it much more
> eloquently, but ...
> is the an answer, and which would be the right one?

The question isn't that new. There even exists a license for this
question, the Affero GPL[0]. The FSF currently works the GNU Affero
GPLv3[1] which will be compatible to GPLv3.

Simplified the Affero GPL says that if you use Free Software licensed
under the Affero GPL as a web service you have to give all users of this
service a copy of the source code and all rights defined by the Affero
GPL. Basically it extends "distribute" to "offering web services".

I think the crucial point is that if you use such a web service
ultimately you don't know what software runs on the server and what will
happen to your data. So whether you will get a copy of the source code
or not, you become dependent on the service provider and lose control
over your computing.

Personally i would avoid using web services whenever it is feasible and
prefer to use software that runs on my own computer so that i have the
full control over it.

[0] http://www.affero.org/oagpl.html
[1] http://gplv3.fsf.org/agplv3-dd1-guide.html

Join the Fellowship and protect your freedom!     (http://www.fsfe.org)

More information about the Discussion mailing list