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Re: Ubuntu CDs contain no sources

On Tue, Nov 08, 2005 at 07:56:31PM +0000, Lewis Jardine wrote:
> cascardo@minaslivre.org wrote:
> > Remember I have the
> >opinion that it is reasonable if you put the sources under a different
> >place but with equivalent access (similar bandwidth and availability
> >and such) or under some different protocols or formats as long as they
> >are pretty standard and there are plenty of popular and free software
> >available to get them. However, it's better to play safe and do not
> >count with an author and a judge that do not agree with this.
> The GPL (not the only copyleft license, but by far the most common one) 
> says the following:
>    3 You may ... distribute the Program... provided that you also do one
>      of the following (redaction and emphasis mine):
>       a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable
>          source code, which must be distributed under the terms of
>          Sections 1 and 2 above *on a medium customarily used for
>          software interchange*; or,
>       b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
>          years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your
>          cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete
>          machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
>          distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above *on a
>          medium customarily used for software interchange*
> As we can see from the text, any method at all can be used to distribute 
> the source code, even one completely different from how the binary is 
> distributed, provided it is a 'medium customarily used for software 
> interchange'. Thus, you can distribute your binaries on CD yet your 
> source on a website, or vice versa. A few years ago, you could probably 
> have distributed your source by BBS (and you still could if such a thing 
> is customary where you are). Offering your source by CVS would also 
> fulfil the obligation: CVS is customarily used to interchange software.
> We can also see from the text that offering your source over a contrived 
>  SCM no-one uses does not discharge this obligation (it's not 
> 'customarily used' to exchange software). If you don't also offer source 
> over a customary medium, the GPL grants you no rights to distribute the 
> software, and so the copyright holder may sue you.	
> Aside: the paragraph "If distribution of executable or object code is 
> made by ... along with the object code." is not saying that you must 
> offer the source in the same place, it's saying that by offering your 
> source in the same place, you can discharge your source obligation under 
> 3a instead of 3b; this is why Debian does not have to keep source 
> archives available for three years.
> -- 
> Lewis Jardine
> -- 
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In my opinion, distributing in a medium customarily used for software
interchange and offering access to copy from a designated place are
not the same thing. Mainly because you cannot be sure the source code
is properly distributed. You should make sure the person has the
access to your host, which may not be true due to a number of reasons.

On the side of the reasoning for this interpretation not to be of
interest to users (which I consider a good way to reason about the
spirit of the GPL), and for a practical reason for the one
distributing the binaries, you mean everybody could distribute a copy
of the CD and point to the same website as the location of the
sources. Would the resources in the host serving this website be
enough to people have their intended access to the source code? Would
the people doing the distribution of copies risk an unavailability of
such host as interpreted by the person receiving the software as not
distributing the source? Would the host serving the website be willing
to be pointed to by every such distributor instead of being mirrored
by him?

Thus, I would not consider my sources being properly distributed to
someone if they are only pointed to an URL.

Thadeu Cascardo.

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