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Re: [Bug-gnubg] Re: Using GNU engine for NetGammon cyber players

From: Nis Jorgensen
Subject: Re: [Bug-gnubg] Re: Using GNU engine for NetGammon cyber players
Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2005 12:45:07 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla Thunderbird 1.0 (Windows/20041206)

Øystein Johansen wrote:
> Hello Pierre!
> Thanks for your request. I think the license question have been raised
> before, many many years ago when GamesGrid wanted to create bots for
> their service.
> IANAL, but I believe using calculations and results from a GPLed program
> inside a commercial product should be legal according to the GPL, so I
> guess it would be ok from a GPL viewpoint.

IA also NAL, but I think it is pretty clear that the GPL allows this. As
long as NetGammon is not going to distribute the software, they can more
or less do whatever they like with it.

This however illuminates to me what seems to be a big problem with
the GPL: you don't have to distribute the source code if you don't
distribute the executable. Basically you can give people access to a
copy running on one of your machines through a web interface, terminal
or other interface - without having to publicize any modifications or
other derivative works (including larger works containing parts of the
GPL-covered program). This seems to go against the spirit of the GPL.

Please note that I do not believe that NetGammon using gnubg for the
indicated purpose is against the spirit of the GPL. I do believe that
NetGammon is morally (but not legally) obliged to contribute any
modifications back to the project.

> The project does not receive ant fees from GamesGrid or Paul Magriel
> either the the service they are providing, so I guess we can't accept a
> fee from you either. The project doesn't have any economy at all, and
> all contributions are done by volunteers. It has been discussed if we
> should have some kind of economy/found for the project but I believe we
> have partly rejected it since it may lead to internal arguments.
> I suggest, as a fair compensation for usage of GNU backgammon at your
> gaming server, that the GNU Backgammon developers and maintainers
> receive a free lifetime membership at your server. I addition a nice
> positive description of the GNU Backgammon project with a link to
> www.gnubg.org at your web pages. Does that sound fair?

Since the GPL gives NetGammon the RIGHT to use the program, I
don't think they should feel in any way obliged to give anything to the
developers, more than normal users do. So in short I think the above
suggestion is unfair (although NetGammon are of course free to follow it).


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