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Re: migration of wiki material: suggested licence and legal issues

Francesco Poli wrote:
On Sun, 2 Oct 2005 15:38:11 -0700 Don Armstrong wrote:
On Sun, 02 Oct 2005, Francesco Poli wrote:
If that allow public users to get the source form of the wiki
content through the same medium (http) they use for accessing the
wiki itself, that's fine.

No, it would be through a different medium, rsync; but they'd have
access to the content which is the critical aspect here.

In that case, I'm afraid that no GPL'd contribution could be accepted.
Because the new wiki would be offering access to copy the compiled form
(that's the HTML generated by the wiki engine) from a designated place
(http://wiki.debian.org), but offering access to copy the source code
(that's the formatting-enriched text) that is not equivalent (rsync is
not equivalent to http), nor from the same place (if a mirror has to be

This does not qualify as distribution of the source code (see the end of
GPLv2 clause 3) and thus does not satisfy clause 3a requirements.
And, of course, the new wiki maintainers would better not make any
written offer (see clause 3b).

Does not 'equivalent' refer to the equivalency of access permissions, rather than access methods? It makes more sense for the GPL to be trying to ensure that anyone with permission to access the object code has permission to access the source, rather than trying to ensure that everyone receives the source and object code using the same technological mechanism. In my opinion, as long as everyone with permission to HTTP the object code is granted permission to rsync, ftp, zmodem, or whatever the source code, they have 'equivalent access to copy the source code'. I believe sourceforge might be analogous: many GPL projects are offered as object code over HTTP, but as source code over CVS.

I don't believe the GPL seeks to ban the use of mirrors : it intentionally leaves the term 'place' without a precise definition, in my opinion to allow this leeway. If the GPL was intended to forbid an entity from hosting its source on one server and its binaries on another, it would say so more explicitly. If we were to interpret 'place' as referring to one specific server, this would greatly restrict the legal distribution of GPLed works over the internet. Trivially, a GPLed work could not be hosted using any form of load-balancing that places source and object code on different servers.

I believe the correct interpretation of 'place' should be somewhere between 'one single server', and 'the whole entire internet'. The best definition I can come up with off the top of my head is 'the internet information services offered by one group or entity, or presented as one service'. In my opinion, the 'same place' could be part of the same website, which may incidentally be hosted on a different physical server. It could be part of the same company, although you'd need to go to a different office to get your DVD of source code. I see no reason why the same people offering access to the source directly from the webserver, and offering access to an identical copy of the source on a different server should be treated differently by the GPL.

Lewis Jardine

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