Subject: Re: Source code becoming less important
From: Greg Stark <gsstark@mit.edu>
Date: 08 Aug 1999 22:48:41 -0400


There's a flip side to this discussion, services like web sites which may rely
on free software but never actually deliver the software itself to the user.

Consider something like Slashdot, the code of which is free software. Even if
it were GPL'd (I don't think it is but for the sake of argument) I could grab
it, make changes, put up a site based on it with cool new features, and never
release the source code at all. 

If Slashdot doesn't seem like a good example consider something like Quicken's
tax software. If we started a GPL'd service like it the GPL would offer no
protection at all.

To protect users of services like this you would need to turn the GPL into a
shrink-wrap license that bound the receiver to release the source to any user,
and good luck defining "user".

I tend to think the protections the GPL provides are less important than GPL
proponents think they are, but online services like this might be one place
where such protections would be useful, and there's no license that provides
them for such products.

-- 
greg