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Re: xchat is now shareware in windoze

Glenn Maynard writes:

> On Thu, Oct 21, 2004 at 09:39:18AM -0700, Don Armstrong wrote:
> > Assuming the upstream author has properly licensed upstream's
> > contributions under the GPL, we can distribute those contributions so
> > long as we comply with the terms of the GPL. [There is an argument
> > that the upstream author can't actually distribute upstream's
> > contributions under the GPL, but I'd suggest that even if this is the
> > case, if we can comply with the GPL, we should be able to distribute
> > it ourselves.]
> This is very confusing.  Can you please distinguish between the two upstream
> authors in a way other than calling one "upstream" and the other "upstream
> author"?

Let us call them the package maintainer and patch contributor.  The
package maintainer includes GPL-only code from the patch contributor.
The package maintainer continues to release that under the GPL, but
also releases a shareware version in violation of the GPL.  Debian
would package the GPL version.

It is not clear to me that releasing the shareware(-only) version
terminates the package maintainer's rights to release the GPL version.
I do not think any reasonable patch contributor would sue over the GPL
releases made by the package maintainer, although they might easily
sue over the shareware version.

More to the point, I do not think *any* patch contributor, reasonable
or not, would have grounds to sue someone who always distributes the
package according to the GPL -- even if this distributor includes
contributed GPL-only patches and later GPL-licensed changes made by
the package maintainer but which depend on those patches.

Whether there are grounds to sue the Debian packager or a mirror
operator is, of course, a different question from whether one really
wants to package software when its maintainer seems to willfully
violate copyrights (not just the copyrights on the patches, but also
those on libraries such as gtk+).

Michael Poole

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