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Re: Knoppix and GPL

On Tue, Apr 29, 2003 at 12:41:56AM +0200, Klaus Knopper wrote:
> 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.
> No.

So how does anybody ever get it, if you never provide copies to anybody?

> > Your friend could then pass on the three year offer.
> If you interpret the GPL literally, it does not demand that the written

There is no non-literal way to interpret a license. Licenses mean what they say.

> 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.

You have no say in this matter, because you are not the copyright holder.

People who redistribute copies must comply with the GPL. You *cannot* excuse
them from this.

> 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.

That is what the GPL requires, yes. You are welcome to provide other things
to people, but that is not relevant to the license.

> > 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.

You have mirrors that can't handle the occasional 2Gb upload? Or are you
assuming that everybody who downloads the binary image will also download
the source images?

> 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?

This paragraph is highly confused.

Firstly, "Knoppix" can't be "in compliance with the GPL". The GPL is a
license. It applies to people. You cannot sue a piece of software. It is
the people who distribute Knoppix who must comply with the GPL.

Secondly, a "written offer" in a CD image is a really weird notion. I'm not
at all convinced that this satisfies 3b. Written offers should usually be
made in writing.

Lastly, this "written offer" does *NOT* exempt commercial distributers from
being required to either:
a) provide the source along with the binaries
b) provide a written offer *OF THEIR OWN*, valid for at least three years,
   to provide source on demand

  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
 : :' :  http://www.debian.org/ | Dept. of Computing,
 `. `'                          | Imperial College,
   `-             -><-          | London, UK

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