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

Re: Gibraltar

Rene Mayrhofer <rene.mayrhofer@vianova.at> wrote:
>The question to all license experts is now: Can I take GPLed software
>(including my own GPLed packages specifically written for live,
>read-only filesystems) from Debian and publish ISO images with an
>license that restricts selling those particular ISO images (thus
>protecting the layout of them) ?

Section 2 of the GPL says:

      b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in
      whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any
      part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third
      parties under the terms of this License.
  These requirements apply to the modified work as a whole.  If
  identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the Program,
  and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in
  themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not apply to those
  sections when you distribute them as separate works.  But when you
  distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is a work based
  on the Program, the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of
  this License, whose permissions for other licensees extend to the
  entire whole, and thus to each and every part regardless of who wrote it.
  Thus, it is not the intent of this section to claim rights or contest
  your rights to work written entirely by you; rather, the intent is to
  exercise the right to control the distribution of derivative or
  collective works based on the Program.
  In addition, mere aggregation of another work not based on the Program
  with the Program (or with a work based on the Program) on a volume of
  a storage or distribution medium does not bring the other work under
  the scope of this License.

Considering this, my understanding is that you wish to distribute a work
containing GPLed programs (the CD image). Identifiable sections of that
work (your layout, any tools, etc.) are your work, not derived from
those GPLed programs, and can be reasonably considered independent and
separate works in themselves. Therefore the GPL is not required to apply
to those sections, when distributed separately. (For example, you could
sell separately the files that control how your CD is laid out and
restrict redistribution of those files, if you so wished.)

However, when you distribute those same sections as part of a whole (the
CD image), the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of the
GPL. The final paragraph contains the caveat that this does not, for
example, bring other works aggregated on the same CD under the terms of
the GPL. However, as the second last paragraph states, the intent of
section 2 of the GPL is, in part, to control the distribution of
collective works (for example, CD images) based on GPLed programs. In
particular, as section 1 says:

  You may charge a fee for the physical act of transferring a copy, and
  you may at your option offer warranty protection in exchange for a fee.

If the substitutions I have made into the text of the GPL are accurate
(I am not a lawyer, nor even much of a licence expert, I'm just
attempting the somewhat risky exercise of applying logic to the law :)),
this should be a fairly clear demonstration that you are not allowed to
distribute CDs containing GPLed software with restrictions on commercial
use beyond those imposed by the GPL itself. This isn't any kind of legal
advice, but if you want to find some way in which you can impose the
restrictions you want, you need to read section 2 of the GPL very

>Can it be that I am allowed to not give away my ISO image of GPLed
>software when I distribute CD-ROMs, but that I can not say "I want to
>publish a version for free but with some restrictions on the
>redistribution of the ISO image"

You are never obliged to distribute anything under the GPL, apart from
source code to binaries. If you do distribute a collective work based on
a GPLed program, though, you can't impose any more restrictions on it
than the GPL does.

>Could somebody answer these last questions please ? I really do not
>want to conflict with Debian's licenses. If I have no chance to
>distribute ISO images for free but with restrictions for commercially
>selling them, then I can not afford to publish them.

That doesn't necessarily follow. What you should do is look for ways of
establishing your reputation as a good supplier in your field. Look for
ways of advertising your product. Take part in security newsgroups and
mailing lists (not spamming, but providing helpful answers to people
with related questions). Generally, be a worthwhile member of the
community. Reputation is very, very important in free software, and, if
you establish a good reputation for yourself, people will come to you
more often than you think.

For instance, you've got a website to distribute these images from,
right? Use it. The CD redistributors won't redistribute that. Nor can
they redistribute other support you give. If the CD image is the only
thing you have, then you won't make any money anyway. Therefore
presumably you have something else to offer. Concentrate on that.


Colin Watson                                     [cjw44@flatline.org.uk]

Reply to: