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Re: access to code under AGPL v3

by
Leonardo Rochael Almeida
- 01/14/2016 08:33:18
Hi,

Sorry for the long post and for not offering a TL;DR version.

I'm not a lawyer.

Heck, sometimes I can't even spell "lawyer" without the spellchecker complaining.

But it seems to me many people here are mistaken about what "powers" a license has.

I'm not going to get into the details on what the AGPL does or does not require, when you distribute, or allow access, to your software to a third party.

But one thing is for sure:

 - A license only has the power to allow things that are otherwise forbidden by copyright law (or author's rights laws, depending on country).

In particular, it also means:

 - A license for software X, has no power of forcing a change of license in software Y. It only has the ability of saying: "You cannot distribute software X along with software Y if software Y has a compatible license. Otherwise you cannot distribute software X at all".

And this only happens because, otherwise, you would be forbidden from distributing software X completely, in the absence of its license.

So what happens if someone distributes (or performs to an external audience, in the case of AGPL) software X along with software Y, even if software Y has an incompatible license?

Is software Y forced into the same license as X?

No.

The only thing that happens is that the persons who distributed software X against the permissions of its license will have exposed themselves to a lawsuit from the OWNER (and only the owner) of software X.

Nothing more, nothing less.

IF the owner of software X sues the infringing distributor, then the owner of software X MIGHT decide to accept the release of software Y under a compatible license as a form of settlement IF the infringing distributor is willing to do it.

Or he might not.

And the if the infringing party is not the owner of software Y, they cannot even offer that as a form of settlement. And they're not forced to offer it, EVEN if they are the owner of Y.

The only thing that they are required to do is stop distributing (or performing), the infringing combination (and pay money to the owner of software X, if the owner demands it).

In any case, NOTHING forces software Y to change licenses just because of it being distributed (or performed) along with software X.

If YOU are the OWNER of an AGPL software package, and you find that YOUR package is being "performed" along with non-AGPL software in a server to which you have access but are not the owner, then please go ahead and sue the owner of the server.

Otherwise, please stop assuming things that the AGPL cannot do, and stop demanding people to give you access non-AGPL source until you have a legal reason to sue them.

In time, I'm not defending ODOO S.A.

Personally I think that a mixed opensource/proprietary environment only leads to an unnecessary arms race where the open source developers have to keep re-implementing the proprietary code with a lot of work hours being wasted on both sides, and an increased risk of forking.

I also don't buy their argument that "themes are art, so are not subject to the same terms as the software" because, in most countries, art and software are covered by mostly the same copyright (or author's rights) laws.

But I do wish people would spend their time and communication bandwidth on more productive endeavors than discussing licenses.

And if they really, truly, wish to discuss licenses, then that they do so with their lawyer, not with a public mailing list.

Thank you for your time, and sorry for the long post.

Leo

On 14 January 2016 at 09:34, Cocopapa <cocopapa@gmail.com> wrote:
Interesting to read!

Most interesting is the still unanswered question of Martin after Fabien wrote the following:

> 2/ Is it correct that the code to be provided access to, would be only the modules used publicly on the website (and not a module that is used internally - only in the backend)?
No, you must provide ALL modules. (as they have to be AGPLv3 too)

It would indeed mean that also Odoo 9 has to be AGPL v.3 Martin as soon as a module gets included which is AGPL v.3 and that is usually the case from our experience!

Fabien you seem to be knowledgeable with AGPL v.3 perhaps you can explain that a bit more. Thanks!

Cori

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