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Re: Fwd: Libranet (Debian derivate) requires $10 membership

Henning Makholm <henning@makholm.net> :

> > >Isn't this a huge violation of the GPL ??
> It seems to be. Their decision only to distribute to people who agree
> to pay them $10 is, of course, perfectly fine, but they also say:
> >   You may freely download and use this distribution for any purpose with
> >      the exception that you may not sell or distribute this iso image
> >         without prior permission from Libra Computer Systems Ltd.
> >     The programs contained within the Libranet distribution have been
> >    released under several different licenses, mostly under the GPL. For
> >       more information read each program's respective documentation.
> I understand here that the ISO image they distribute contains GPL'ed
> programs. Thus if the image is a copyrightable work in itself (and I
> think it is, as an aggregate work), it is a work based on those GPL'ed
> program and hence (by GPL clause 2b) they must license their aggregate
> copyright under GPL. Thus they must not restrict their customers from
> selling or redistributing the image.

See this paragraph in the GPL:

  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.

Putting GPL and non-GPL code in the same iso image looks to me like an
example of mere aggregation, so my guess is that even if Libranet's
current wording violates the GPL, they could achieve the same effect
by adopting a different wording: instead of saying that "The Libranet
iso image is copyright 2000 Libra Computer Systems Ltd" and that they
are not giving permission to do XYZ, they could instead say that the
Libranet iso image contains material that is copyright 2000 Libra
Computer Systems Ltd and that they are not giving permission to do

However, this change may be unnecessary. It's highly probably that
Libranet would have a valid copyright over the iso image even if the
image contained only GPL programs, as the selection and arrangement
could itself constitute a work to which copyright is applicable.

However, I'm not a lawyer.

By the way, I think it would be bad for Debian if what Libranet is
doing were to turn out to be illegal.


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