Re: Binaries under GPL(2) (was: Re: Bug#221709: ITP: at76c503a-source -- at76c503a driver source)
Scripsit Don Armstrong <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> On Wed, 26 Nov 2003, Alexander Cherepanov wrote:
> > 24-Nov-03 22:02 Don Armstrong wrote:
> >> in order to redistribute under the terms of the GPL, you need to be
> >> able to provide source (the prefered form for modification.)
> > Section 2 of the GPL doesn't require to provide source. It doesn't
> > talk about source at all.
> Section 3 is the critical point here, as it covers distribution in
> object or executable formats, which is what we would be distributing.
I think Alexander's point may have merit. If you distribute whatever
precise bits it was that the copyright holder waved a copy of the GPL
over, those bits must be assumed to be "the Program", and as such GPL
#2 gives you right to distribute a modified version of the bits.
The fact that GPL #3 *also* gives you the right to distribute the bits
under somewhat different conditions should not affect the right given
1. This is clearly a wording oversight in the GPL. I'm not sure that
Debian should base its decisions to distrtibute things on such
2. Some kind of modification to the bits is required for #2 to be
applicable. Then one needs to add prominent notices of the
modification to the file. An ELF binary could conveivably
be relinked to contain such a notice in an unused section,
but it's harder do see how to do this for firmware object code
in a closed format.
3. Opaque bits GPL-licensed in this way are not GPL-compatible (!) -
if they are combined with object code produced from GPLed *source*
the resulting work is undistributable.
4. (And, of course, opaque bits cannot be DFSG-free, GPL or no GPL,
due to DFSG #2).
Henning Makholm "I ... I have to return some videos."