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Re: One unclear point in the Vim license

On Thu, Jan 03, 2002 at 08:03:23PM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:

> > Yes it is.  You have to provide or offer the sources, but the person
> > who receives them does not have to take or keep them.

> >       If it didn't, then I as Big Evil Proprietary Software
> >     Company would just sell binary-only CD's in exchange for cash plus a
> >     signed declaration that "I hereby forfeit my right to recieve source
> >     code from you".

> > I don't believe that is really the same situation.

> How isn't it?  The above statement in writing is no different in meaning
> or intent from saying "no thanks" when the person handing you a binary
> of GCC also offers you the source code.  It's just a lot more
> formalized.

> Note that I am not endorsing or condoning the tactics in my "Big Evil"
> paragraph above, I'm just not sure what in the GPL is stopping people
> from doing it.

Saying "no thanks" works only because it is done in an informal context.
From a legal standpoint, the GPL is a license between the author and the
distributor, and no statement from a third party (here the recipient of
the binaries), signed, notarized or otherwise, will remove the 
obligations of the licensee -- namely, to provide the recipient of the 
binaries with either the source code, or a written offer to provide the 
source code upon request.  Failure to do one of these two things exposes 
the distributor to legal action from the author.

But in a world where everybody plays nice, that's ok.  The GPL is the 
means of creating a community within a world full of legal nuances, but 
within the community itself, not everything has to be mediated by 
lawyers.  After all, it is also the prerogative of the copyright holder
to /not/ sue for this sort of violation.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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