[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: On being web-friendly and why info must die

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: On being web-friendly and why info must die
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:31:20 +0900

chad writes:

 > I must have been unclear: I’m talking about declarations in the
 > javascript code that is delivered to the browser.

That was clear.

 > That requires absolutely nothing of the browser authors themselves
 > that isnt already long-available

I believe that Richard will disagree, but we'll see.  At least IMHO:

 > - you need the javascript authors to make a GPL-compatible
 > declaration, and then you need a browser extension to tell the user
 > about the declaration.

is hardly useful, since it requires the user to install and enable the
extension.  Thus "most" users (FVO "most" > 0 :-) will not be made
aware of non-GPL Javascript (or that they're even running Javascript).

 > The GPL declarations for, say, gcc, gdb, and (tentatively) emacs
 > all have the same problem.

They have the problem of fraudulent behavior, yes.  The difference is
that from the point of view of freedom and educating users we want the
functionality built-in to the browser and enabled by default.  That is
how this is managed in the free software applications you mention.

 > I am assuming that the approaches that are acceptable there could
 > also apply here.

That depends on what you mean by "apply".  If you mean "I would like a
way to know when my browser is about to run non-free/non-GPL
software," I think that assumption is justified: it would be effective
and useful.  If you mean "would make server-supplied Javascript
acceptable to free software advocates in principle," I think there are
two major problems, one "easy", and the other not so.

(1) The popular browsers are not GPL, so GPL-compatibility
    declarations are neither meaningful nor enforceable.  (IANAL, they
    might be enforceable via "false advertising" statutes or the like,
    but certainly there's no copyright holder with standing to enforce
    GPL-ness.)  This is easy to fix, just write a world-beating web
    browser and GPL it.

(2) Even if the browser is GPL, the purpose of "the Javascript we
    hate" is to avoid the GPL.  The Javascript runs in the browser, so
    a GPL declaration would presumably be effective on that front.
    But the distributors of the Javascript who are "hiding" unfreeness
    behind an SaaS shield are on the wrong side of a network protocol
    for the GPL to take effect, and (since they are the owners of the
    Javascript) it's unlikely they'll sue themselves even if we
    strengthen the GPL-compatibility declaration to AGPL.  But nobody
    else has standing to do so AFAICS.  (Again, IANAL, but this looks
    to be a "hard" problem.)

AFAICS the best we can do is to provide a tool to help users determine
the freeness of the scripts provided by sites they visit, and provide
Javascript *with the manual sources* rather than separately via the

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]