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Re: nmap licensing claims

On Fri, Mar 05, 2004 at 09:05:43PM +0200, Birzan George Cristian wrote:
> Now, the reason I'm posting here is I've noticed the following claim
> made by nmap developers [1]:

>  in accordance with section 4 of the GPL, we hereby terminate SCO's
>  rights to redistribute any versions of Nmap in any of their products,
>  including (without limitation) OpenLinux, Skunkware, OpenServer, and
>  UNIXWare."

> IANAL, but I see two issues with this.
> First, nmap is distributed under the GPL. Section 4 of the GPL sates [2]:

>  4.  You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program
>  except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise
>  to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will
>  automatically terminate your rights under this License. However, parties
>  who have received copies, or rights, from you under this License will
>  not have their licenses terminated so long as such parties remain in
>  full compliance.

> My understanding of that is that you're only allowed to use this program
> as long as you comply with the GPL, which does not limit its
> distribution or usage on certain platforms. Any such addendum would be a
> new licence.

1) Your comment above is misleadingly imprecise.  The GPL is not an
end-user license; you do not need to accept it at all in order to *use*
GPL software.

2) The above statement does not limit the distribution or usage of nmap
on any particular platforms.  It only limits its distribution *by
certain parties* who they claim have violated the license.  Anyone else
still has permission to distribute nmap binaries compiled for SCO
systems under the terms of the GPL, and anyone can use nmap on SCO
systems, it's only SCO themselves who are prohibited from distributing.

The nmap license still offers the same terms to everyone, they've just
included a notice in the distribution that a particular party has failed
to comply with those terms.  Therefore, this is not an act of
discrimination, as other parties who fail to comply with the terms of
the GPL are also not allowed to distribute nmap, whether or not the nmap
authors make a point of publically shaming those parties.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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