Re: Selling CDs...
Please note that I am not a lawyer either and have no position to
speak for Debian, SPI or the FSF.
On Sat, Aug 25, 2001 at 09:01:44AM +0100, Edmund GRIMLEY EVANS wrote:
> Thomas Uwe Gruettmueller <email@example.com>:
> Please note that I am not a lawyer and I am not speaking on behalf of
> > When I understand the stuff on http://cdimages.debian.org
> > correctly, Debian suggests to sell also incomplete sets of the
> > official CDs, e.g. only Binary-1. If it is really possible to
> > sell Binary-only-CDs, how does it relate to the GPL??? And does
> > this rule only apply to the official CDs or also to e.g. a
> > developer snapshot of woody?
> (1) If you're distributing an official CD and Debian suggested that
> you can do this, then you probably don't have to worry: just tell
> people that you're acting as an agent for Debian and refer them to
> (2) For GPL software there seems to be no problem: if you got the
> source from Debian it's good enough to tell people that they can get
> the source from Debian, too. At least, that's my interpretation. If
> you're using Emacs, try C-h C-c and read for yourself:
> > 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 following:
> > 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.)
Selling CDs, even for 2 cents (the maximum value of my opinions) is
by definition commercial distribution, so option c) of the GPL does
not apply. The much more strict option which I think applies is:
(quoting from GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE Version 2, June 1991)
> b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
> years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your
> cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete
> machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
> distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium
> customarily used for software interchange; or,
Thus someone charging people for binary only CDs is apparently
required to be prepared to include such an offer (e.g. on the
CD insert or labelling or something) and to be prepared to honer
it (at least for the GPL parts).
Such someone is apparently not excused if Debian suddenly disappears
or removes a package from the ftp servers (e.g. if someone suddenly
outlawed gpg). Thus if I did something like that I would probably
keep a set of masters for the matching source CDs around just in
case someone asks for a source CD set. And keep those CDs in stock
for something like 5 to 6 years just in case some back street shop
was still selling the CDs 2 to 3 years after I stopped shipping
Of cause in practice, most people asking for source CDs would
be happy to accept the latest version rather than the version
matching the binary CDs they bought two years before. But they
are entitled to the matching CD, and may actually need it for
something like an official investigation related to the security
of their computer or whatever.
This kind of requirement is not unusual in business. Companies
and retailers keep back stocks of spare parts around for decades
(and those of us with old things like them for it). Tax authorities
require companies (and sometimes individuals) to keep receipts
and other accounting documentation handy for 5 years just in case
they decide to check your books etc. etc. Keeping a 5 CD set
and the means to make copies on request is nothing in comparison.
This message is hastily written, please ignore any unpleasant wordings,
do not consider it a binding commitment, even if its phrasing may
indicate so. Its contents may be deliberately or accidentally untrue.
Trademarks and other things belong to their owners, if any.