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source obfuscators and the GPL (was: Bug#158529: vcg does not have a usable license)

On Wed, Aug 28, 2002 at 09:34:52AM -0500, Steve Langasek wrote:
> The C files are derived works of the yacc sources, are they not?  The GPL
> is already quite clear about permitting redistribution of derived works.

Yes, and what it clearly says is that derived works can be distributed
under the terms of section 1.  And section 1 only gives permission for
distributing "the Program's source code".

Hmm, I might be misreading the link between section 2 and section 1,
because what section 1 actually says is "the Program's source code
as you receive it", which wouldn't make sense for a modified work.

I guess that for the purposes of section 2, you could decide that
the terms of section 1 start at "in any medium", but that seems
arbitrary.  Also, it opens up a hole: it would allow the output
of obfuscators to be distributed without accompanying source code.
(In fact, I don't see anything that stops section 2 from applying
to ordinary compiled programs.  Section 0 explicitly lists translation
as a kind of modification.)

So what we would want is for obfuscated code to be distributable
under section 3, but that section only applies to "object code
or executable form".  (Section 3 also refers back to the terms
of sections 1 and 2, which I find even more confusing :)

> The "preferred form for modification" clause only refers to things that
> you MUST distribute under certain circumstances, it places no limitations
> on what else you MAY distribute.

Indeed, I'm not concerned about limitations, but about lack of permission
to distribute it in the first place.

Richard Braakman

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