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

Re: [debian-knoppix] Knoppix source and the GPL

Valentijn Sessink wrote on Thu, 3 Apr 2003 
at 13:25:04 +0200:

> Hello List,
> I have the following problem. 

> As some of you might have noticed, I'm working
> on a changed version of Knoppix - as many of you
> are. This goes well.
> However, as lots of the software included is GPL'ed,
> I need to be able to provide sources for this CD.

Valentijn & others:
Please be reassured.  When I downloaded section 3c 
of the GPL just now, it said this (slightly 
different from your text) ---

"3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a 
work based on it, under Section 2) in object code 
or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 
and 2 above provided that you also do one of the 
c) Accompany it with the information you received 
as to the offer to distribute corresponding source 
code.  (This alternative is allowed only for 
noncommercial distribution and only if you received 
the program in object code or executable form with 
such an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)"

As I read 3c, it allows you to hand onwards any GPL'd 
binary/executables that you obtained from others when 
you also hand on, with them, the information that you 
yourself received about the offer for distribution of 
their source code.

It does _not at all_ say that you have to personally 
guarantee the usability of that information.

I think it is clear enough from the agreement that 
the intent was to try and make sure that no-one has 
the right to cut off information about how to get 
the source code.

But probably the GPL drafting lawyer did not fully 
imagine the risk that information about how to get 
the source code might become outdated or unusable 
in course of time.  The GPL seems to lack provision 
for this risk.  
The GPL also seems to set a puzzle in the event that 
the binary/executable accidentally becomes separated
from information about how to get the source -- did 
the GPL really mean to 'freeze' the binary, and
prohibit its further circulation in that event?

But I am confident that you need not worry about 
these puzzles from the point of view of your own 
legal responsibilities:  if you do just what 3c 
asks, (which you can easily do by passing onwards 
just the information that you yourself get), that 
must be enough to satisfy your obligation. 

It's a separate and interesting question whether 
the FSF or GNU org or the community at large 
could need to do anything to preserve GPL'd 
source code against loss and decay ....

(Albeit I am a patent attorney, this posting is 
only intended to constitute a general expression 
of scholarly comment or personal opinion, and 
certainly not legal advice nor any basis for 
any client relationship!)

Best wishes
Terry Stancliffe, Cambridge  

Yahoo! Plus
For a better Internet experience
debian-knoppix mailing list

Reply to: