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Re: Knoppix and GPL

On Mon, Apr 28, 2003 at 01:37:15PM -0700, Walter Landry wrote:
> Klaus Knopper <legal@knopper.net> wrote:
> > On Mon, Apr 28, 2003 at 11:30:43AM -0700, Walter Landry wrote:
> > > > Technically, I'm not even actively distributing any software at any time.
> > > > The mirrors are downloading and distributing it without any action
> > > > initiated by me. Or magazines publish Knoppix, in some cases even
> > > > without asking me.
> > > 
> > > Well, in that case you are distributing Knoppix.
> > 
> > That is your interpretation. You may call it a "passive distribution",
> > if you like.
> If I understand the situation correctly, you are directly providing
> copies to other people.


> If you burned a CD and gave it to a friend,
> who then posted it, then you would only be providing copies to your
> friend.


> Your friend could then pass on the three year offer.

If you interpret the GPL literally, it does not demand that the written
offer must be transferable to third persons. So, in your example,
it would be the friend's responsibility to make sure he/she can comply
with the GPL if chosing to redistribute the software. But I for my part
am not a hardliner or literal interpreter of the GPL, and will
provide the sources to third persons as well, as long as I can handle
the effort.

> But I don't think that is what is happening.  Please let me know if
> I'm mistaken, because if I am, then the whole problem is moot.

I'm not distributing KNOPPIX-CDs myself, only in very rare occasions
(talks or meetings). Most people get Knoppix-CDs by downloading them
from mirrors that operate independently.

So, if you absolutely want to interpret the GPL literally, at maximum my
responsibility would be to provide access to the source for the primary
mirrors for 3 years, and not to people who download from them.

> > And all mirrors would immediately stop mirroring Knoppix because of
> > space and traffic reasons
> Is one CD of source going to break the bank for your mirrors?

It's 3 CDs of source for 1 CD of binary. The GPL has demands for
dependencies, so, you also have to provide compilers and the complete
development environment, which also covers "related" sources and
possibly different versions if the build process depends on them.

Please keep in mind that Knoppix uses compression. One CD contains about
2 GB of preinstalled software.

> I'm not
> talking about mirroring all of Debian.

But your demand would lead to this. There are dependencies between
packages, if you plan to compile everything by yourself, you do need
between 2 and 3 GB of sources minimum.

> Technically, you would only
> have to do it for the programs under the GPL or other copyleft
> licenses, though it is probably more trouble than it is worth to sort
> them out.

Right. But the majority of programs on Knoppix IS GPL software.
There are very few packages (like Java or Acrobar reader) which are not.

> The increase in traffic will, most likely, be minimal.

Unfortunately not. Remember, I am collecting the sources for each
release and have a rough estimate about how much it is. Currently
it is more like 4 CDs of source for one Knoppix CD, since some
libraries have to be kept in different versions for
compatibility reasons.

> > , and there will be no magazines distributing GNU/Linux because non
> > of them would be willing to comply to a).
> The magazines have to comply with either 3a) or 3b).  They can't use
> 3c), because that is only available for non-commercial distribution.

IF they obtained their copy from me, they can get the sources from me
and give them to their customers, in case someone asks.

Is nobody gettng tired of this topic? I thought we already cleared
things up. The written offer is present on each CD, which complies
to the GPL. I have an email from Dave Turner from the FSF stating
that Knoppix IS in compliance with the GPL. Is there anything more
to discuss?

-Klaus Knopper

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