Re: defining "distribution" (Re: A few more LPPL concerns)
On Mon, 2002-07-22 at 09:49, Boris Veytsman wrote:
> > From: Jeff Licquia <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > > My /usr/local/bin can
> > > be NFS-exported to hundreds of computers. Even my box can have
> > > hundreds logins there.
> > Yes, but in the former case, you are distributing the program to
> > hundreds of computers. In the latter, hundreds of users are running the
> > program.
> I think this is bizarre. On my home network there are several x86 and
> several Sparcs. The x86s share /usr while the Sparcs have their
> individual /usr each. You are saying that something is legal to do on
> my Sparc but not on x86s? And if I take the decision to take a hard
> drive from the Sparc and put on the fileserver, the legality changes?
Sure. The actual situation changes, so the legal situation could
What you don't seem to be getting is that *licenses can restrict almost
anything*. When talking about hypothetical licenses, then anything
could possibly be true. There is no way of talking about the legality
of an issue or not outside of particular licenses, unless you're talking
about fair use rights.
In the case of the GPL and your home network, nothing really changes.
You own all of the machines on your home network, so you don't have any
obligation you didn't have before concerning source distribution. But I
don't know what other software you have installed on those systems, or
what their licenses require.
(This is a motivation for the DFSG, by the way. When you install Debian
main on a system, you know that you have certain rights and
responsibilities that are common to all of the software you just
> > And, the GPL says:
> > > The act of running the Program is not restricted...
> > Therefore, the act of running the program from /usr/local/bin is not
> > restricted.
> I agree that *running* a program is not restricted -- both by GPL and
> LPPL. However, I think that when *I* run a program from
> /usr/local/bin, where *you* put it with the explicit intent to make it
> available for me to run, there are two acts involved. Namely, *you*
> distributed the program, and *I* run it. My actions are not
> restricted, but *yours* are restricted by GPL and LPPL.
By the LPPL, yes. By the GPL, no, that's not how it's interpreted.
"make install" makes a copy from one location to another. Since I'm the
person making the copy on my own machine, then I'm not distributing to
anyone. The fact that I add a user to my box and let my neighbor log in
does not create any new copies of anything. And when my neighbor runs a
GPLed program, "the act of running the Program is not restricted", so
again I have no new restrictions.
> Again, imagine a company that put a closed-source derivative of a
> GPL'ed program on a company machine and refused to provide sources,
> but encouraged employees to run it for company business. Would you
> consider this legal? If not, you must recognize the act ot placing the
> executables in /usr/local/bin on a machine accessible by others to be
> what is it -- a distribution.
Personally, I don't have any problem with this. If the company licensed
the program under the GPL, and the company isn't distributing the
program, then the company doesn't have to provide source.
This is a principle that the FSF supports, by the way, although perhaps
not to the same extent that I do.
> > The key is that the license has to spell it out. The GPL talks about
> > "copying, distribution, and modification", but sees fit to not define
> > those terms; thus, we can accept a "common sense" definition of the
> > terms. The only clarification offered is the statement that "The act of
> > running the Program is not restricted"; this means that "copying,
> > distribution, and modification" is not considered to be taking place
> > when merely running the Program for the purposes of the license.
> I think that LPPL might have this clause as well. The poiunt is, my
> "common sense" definition of distribution includes placing the program
> in publicly accessed places.
Good for you. But your common sense definition isn't written into the
GPL, so it doesn't have legal force.
If you license any software under the GPL, and you try to get someone
for violating the license because that person installed the program
without providing source, don't be surprised if you lose. The issue
would be whether the user's "common sense" definition was a reasonable
one, not whatever unwritten interpretation you happen to put on the GPL
but refused to tell anyone.
> > The LPPL, by contrast, has a different definition of "distribution":
> > > Note that in the above, `distribution' of a file means making the
> > > file available to others by any means. This includes, for instance,
> > > installing the file on any machine in such a way that the file is
> > > accessible by users other than yourself.
> > These two definitions are incompatible, and the GPL's is manifestly less
> > restrictive than the LPPL's.
> Again, I think thay are compatible. However, it is up to David and
> Frank to clarify this issue.
DFSG-freeness does not imply compatibility with the GPL. DFSG-freeness
is, I think, an attainable goal for the LPPL, but judging from the
responses we've gotten to relaxing certain restrictions in the LPPL, GPL
compatibility is not possible.
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