A company invests money and engineers in building commercial tooling, which you then pay for because there is added value. You are not paying for the open source - which is freely available. How is that scummy?
The "comply with the license" part is the problem you're not seeing, using open source as SaaS is a loophole not a license feature.
An example being, I license something as open source which means if you don't pay for it (assuming there's an option for that), you are bound to follow the license I provided which means all further work has to be open source (the same license I used) and source has to be provided with the product. In an ideal world this would mean either:
1. We both get paid
2. We both contribute to open software which is available to anyone
But in our world it means, technically I'm not selling software but a service so I don't have to do shit. so the result (with scummy companies) is the following:
1. I don't get paid for software critical to your business
2. No one gets the benefit of the new product created despite my license
This is entirely untrue. If it were the case that 'I don't have to do shit', then why doesn't someone else do it too? Running a service takes a WHOLE LOT of work, and writing the software is, in many cases, the easy part.
We know this is true because whenever there is a conflict with a software license, the big cloud vendors just re-write it themselves.
I'm still wary, though. I could imagine if the resultant fines or source code releases from violating a GPL license weren't a strong enough deterrent, you could win by using a GPL-licensed product enough, then parry off attacks from EFF/FSF until you do a complete rewrite of the product underneath, then pay the fine/contribution to EFF/FSF while toppling the original company. If the company is big enough, and can afford enough good lawyers, there may be legal ways to get around laws.
A copyright holder can't get anything more from you by using the GPL. Infringement is infringement. The difference is that a company is usually happy to settle in exchange for a properly paid license, and an open source hacker instead is happy to settle in exchange for complying with the license. You're always free to take it to court and pay the damages from infringement, but you're not going to end up with a valid license in either case, so you'll have to stop distributing the software.
The actual difference, probably, is that you're a (moral) competitor of the open source hacker, and if you're not a competitor of the proprietary company, they have no interest in undermining the secrecy of your code or causing you to go out of business, even if the could potentially force that if they went to court. They're likely to consider "pay us a percentage of revenues" as a win condition.
Also, lawyers are not like Pokemon. You cannot beat the opposing team's lawyers by having more stronger lawyers. You can certainly lose by having bad lawyers, but you can only be guaranteed to win by being in the right.
> You can't actually be guaranteed to win by being in the right. You can be in the right and lose.
What he's obviously saying is that there is a seriously decreasing marginal benefit to more expensive (and presumably competent) lawyers.
It's better to have competent lawyers and be right than have amazing lawyers and be wrong.
Obviously there are shades of grey, nuisance lawsuits are a thing, etc.
It's probably best stated like "lawyers are not _always_ like Pokemon". Sometimes they very definitely are.
This is a copyright license at its heart. It is a contract between the copyright-owner and the service owner. The end user is just 3rd party.
I don't think many developers are aware that Ghostscript has an AGPL license, and I've heard that the commercial license costs $25k per year. It's very easy to just `apt-get install ghostscript` when you want to work with PDFs (e.g. with imagemagick), but this violates the AGPL license when you are running a SaaS application.
There are some permissively-licensed libraries (Apache 2.0) that provide similar functionality, such as PDFBox , or PDF.js + Node.js.
Also, it's 2019 - Artifex, it's OK, you can publish your prices (https://www.artifex.com/licensing/)
Only if you modify the Ghostscript source code.
But I also know that the AGPL license is usually adopted because they want to sell a commercial license, even if the source has not been modified. Artifex is very explicit about their intention on the licensing page of their website.
It depends on the definition of “modification” and “derivative work”. Artifex is adamant that any software using Ghostscript is a derivative work, and the copyleft will apply, so all of your source code must also be released under the AGPL license. This is especially true if your software cannot function without Ghostscript.
If you are only distributing your application (i.e. not a SaaS app), then you could make Ghostscript an optional plugin that people can manually install (like LAME for Audacity.) But a SaaS app provides access to the application over the network, so you cannot use Ghostscript without a commercial license, or without releasing your application’s source code.
I didn’t see anything about Hancom modifying the Ghostscript source. It was the fact that they distributed Ghostscript along with their own application, and their application depended on Ghostscript for some functionality. That was enough to trigger the GPL copyleft, so they were violating the terms of the license and had to settle out of court. The AGPL means that you would be violating the license by providing access to your app over a network.
I'd imagine that the challenge with the AGPL is catching and suing the non-compliant services.
I am curious whether there are any practical observations, one way or the other, about the AGPL’s enforceability.
Nobody is suggesting that an AGPL licence violation would result in a criminal penalty, but if you got caught you may be forced to release any changes you made to the source code. And you could lose the ability to use the software in future—if your business relied on it you might be screwed.
Personally I think the AGPL is stupid, but people are free to pick whatever license terms they like for their copyrighted works. Whether I like it or not is irrelevant.
Personally, I find “you are licensed to use the software without releasing your modifications on your internet connected computer, however if you open a port and offer it as a service, you are not” to be entirely ridiculous. It seems to me that a license can’t (or at least shouldn’t) hinge on what other software I am or am not running on my computer (eg a webserver).
That is why I asked. I’m all for copyleft (despite the fact that its validity hinges on an inherent affirmation of the validity of the concept of intellectual property), but I passionately hate the AGPL because I think it is an unjust infringement upon my freedom as a user. It’s like saying “you have a license to use this software as long as you don’t run a browser that accesses porn on the same machine”. I think it oversteps the boundaries of copyright-as-designed.