[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

RE: Knoppix and GPL

Looking at the GPL it has this statement:

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:

a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source
code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2
above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

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,

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.)

Now maybe my interpretation is bad but it states that you only have to
do one of the following 3 clauses.  Clause C does not require that the
source be offered for 3 years and since Knoppix is a noncommercial
distribution and the offer to distribute it was provided with the CD by
listing a valid Internet location to download it, how exactly is it in
violation of the GPL?  Maybe it is a general misinterpretation that the
source has to be available for 3 years, or your are referring to another
version of the GPL (This one is GPL license available from


-----Original Message-----
From: Sam Hartman [mailto:hartmans@debian.org] 
Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2003 12:40 AM
To: debian-legal@lists.debian.org
Subject: Knoppix and GPL

I believe that the Knoppix CD is violating the GPL by not distributing
source code to GPL packages that they distribute.  In particular, I
looked at http://www.knopper.net/knoppix/index-en.html#license
and found the following text:

    If  not  otherwise  specified, the software on the CD falls under
    GNU  GENERAL  PUBLIC  LICENSE. Similar to other Open Source
    this  means  that  you can copy, modify, redistribute and even
    the  CD  without  restrictions, as long as the recipient receives
    same  license. The source code of the standard packages on the CD
    available  from  their  respective original providers (for example
    the FTP servers at Debian, RedHat, Mandrake). Special components
    as the KNOPPIX kernel or the automatic hardware detection source
    can  be  downloaded  from http://www.knopper.net/download/knoppix/
    not already available in the /usr/src directory on the CD.
    packages,  as  specified  by  the GPL, may fall under another
    (for example Netscape). If in doubt, the licenses can be found in
    help  sections  or  the  DEB-database  (dpkg -p package-name) of
    software package.

I'm sort of annoyed by this because it's often very inconvenient to go
around the net putting together all the source code necessary to
reproduce some CD image .  In addition, the GPL often make it true
that I either declined source code or have source code whenever I have
binaries.  The only case where this is not true is when I am given a
written offer to get source code, but that's fairly rare.

That's convenient for me as a developer and user because it means I
can figure out how things work or change them.  I'm considering
complaining about Knoppix not because I want to be excessively
pendantic about legal issues, but because I have found the current
practice makes it sufficiently inconevnient to figure out what their
CD does in some cases that I will choose not to look at the source
code.  I believe that if the GPL were followed I would have had the
source code I wanted conveniently available and would have easily
figured out the questions I had.

Questions for this list:

1) My interpretation of the GPL is correct, isn't it?  I'm fairly
certain on this one.

2) Am I being excessively unreasonable to complain to the authors
   about this GPL violation if it is actually getting in my way and
   making my life inconvenient?

3) Would anyone be willing to help with souch a complaint?  In
   particular, I believe that someone who could point to convincing
   evdience that our interpretation of the GPL is correct would be
   useful.  There may be a language issue and it is always nice to
   have something to say in response to "No you are just reading that
   legal document incorrectly."  In addition, if it becomes necessary
   is there anyone around who has contributed to GPLed software
   included in Knoppix who would be willing to formally complain as a
   copyright holder if it comes to that?



Reply to: