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Re: Bad license on VCG?

On Fri, Aug 30, 2002 at 07:57:50PM -0500, Jeff Licquia wrote:

> Consider the case where a GPLed program is distributed with .o files
> that are linked in at link time.  The author could say, under the same
> logic and with a straight face, that the .o is "the preferred form for
> modification".

They could, and we'd laugh at them. The point is that we would be perfectly
within our rights to distribute it, and that whether or not we chose to do
so would be an entirely separate question.

> C source code is not "special" or "magic"; it is not metaphysically
> classified by God as source code.  The question as to whether the code
> is source is properly answered by referring to the definition in the
> GPL: does anyone really modify the particular file directly when they
> want to change the program's behavior?  In the case of obfuscated
> source, the answer clearly is "no".  Thus, the obfuscated C file is
> "object code", no matter what language specification it technically
> adheres to.

Bollocks. If the author calls it source, then for the purposes of deciding
what we are allowed to do with it under the *author's* license grant, it is

As I said, it does not necessarily follow that we would want to distribute

> Now, in this case, there's no real foul; the author has just chosen a
> contradictory license, which means that no one really knows what the
> distribution conditions are.

You're overdoing it again. The author has provided what they consider to be
source, and indicated that it is released under the GPL. So we know precisely
what the conditions are.

> If there were third-party GPL code
> included in that program, however, the third party could demand the
> "preferred form for modifying" those C files; if the case made it to a
> courtroom, the onus would be on the author to prove that (s)he really
> did modify those obfuscated C files when (s)he wanted to change the
> behavior of that code.

Quite. But in this case there is no such obligation on the author. The only
question is what *we* could and should do with it.

> > I believe the relevant parts of the GPL are intended to prevent degradation
> > of the usefulness of sources as they are passed 'down the chain', not at
> > any point before it even enters the chain (as the GPL has no clout there).
> So you think RMS intended to allow obfuscated source with the GPL? 
> That's an awfully difficult claim to prove.

That does not follow.

What I'm claiming is that he didn't intend to do something that he knew he
had no power to do in the first place.


Nick Phillips -- nwp@lemon-computing.com
It's lucky you're going so slowly, because you're going in the wrong direction.

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