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Re: Knoppix and GPL

On Mon, Apr 28, 2003 at 07:09:45AM +0200, Peter Palfrader wrote:
> On Mon, 28 Apr 2003, Klaus Knopper wrote:
> > On Mon, Apr 28, 2003 at 06:18:59AM +0200, Peter Palfrader wrote:
> > > On Mon, 28 Apr 2003, Klaus Knopper wrote:
> > > 
> > > > "Since this is a genuine open source project, subject to the GNU General
> > > >  Public License, the source code for the KNOPPIX-specific packages is
> > > >  available via the Internet at http://www.knopper.net/knoppix/sources/.
> > > >  You may find the sources for the installed Debian packages on the
> > > >  various Debian mirrors. Additionally, you can order the sources
> > > >  directly from Knopper.Net for the cost of material, copying, packaging
> > > >  and postage. This offer is valid for 3 years, counting from the build
> > >                                                  ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> > > >  date of this CD-Rom."
> > >    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> > > 
> > > Is this good enough?  Shouldn't it be date of distribution?
> > 
> > So, where can I get the sources of emacs version 1.0?
> Who did you get the binaries from, when and under 3a, 3b or 3c?

Sorry, apparently my point was not clear.

Short version: Knoppix build date == Knoppix distribution date

Long version: You have no control over who distributes your software at
which time. If someone decides, for whatever reason, to withhold your
software fr 20 years, and then distributes a binary version of your
software with your own written offer, the "3 years" limitation above
become pointless. Therefore, the 3 years can only be meant as 3 years
from the date when you, personally, make your software available, not
when someone else distributes your software. The 3 years offer for the
"personal source distribution service" on Knoppix is valid from the day
that it is published. If someone else decides to wait for several days
or weeks and then distributes the binary, it is his responsibility to
also distribute the source for the remaining days or weeks at the end of
the guaranteed 3 year period.

As for my example: If someone "finds" a binary of emacs 1.0 around,
there is no legal way to get the source from the author, even if a
written offer from the author would be present, because the publication
date is already expired for over 3 years.

If a magazine or any institution orders a customized Knoppix version
from me, they get the source for the corresponding binaries in order
to make sure they can  deliver the sources on demand. This is what the
GPL is about: to make the source code available for the recipients.
Its not intended to make it hard for developers or distributors to
publish free software at all, but apparently some people like to
interpret the GPL in a literal way that would make it virtually
impossible thet free software is EVER distributed.

The Debian project, for example, only publishes the sources for their
software packages as long as they are current. When there are updates,
the sources of the old versions "vanish" from the primary mirrors. Of
course, you can still find them on software archives around, but
technically, if you demand that they keep obsolete sources for 3 years
or longer, there would be no mirror left willing to keep old software
that long.

So, again, "Where are the sources of emacs 1.0"?

-Klaus Knopper

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