Re: Keyspan Firmware fun
On Thu, Apr 26, 2001 at 12:33:09AM -0700, Aaron Lehmann wrote:
> An interesting hypothetical question is: what if there is no source
> code? While impractical, I could quite concievably write a program just
> by entering its machine code into a hex editor. How would the GPL's
> restrictions bind me?
The GPL defines source code in section 3:
"The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for
making modifications to it."
It doesn't address the question of _whose_ preferred form, but I think
that the form actually used by the author is a very good indication.
So if you entered the program with a hex editor, and fix bugs the same
way, then a hex dump is the source code. (If the program is truly
write-only and not even the author can modify it, then I don't think
it can be free in any sense.)
In this particular case, if the firmware has a source that's not
published, then putting the binary under GPL doesn't do anything
except make it unredistributable. (The copyright holder is of
course free to do so, but no-one else can satisfy the conditions
of the GPL.)
We've had a similar case with smalleiffel once, which only distributed
the compiler as C files which had been generated from Eiffel sources.
This was fixed upstream after the problem was pointed out.