Re: GPLed software with no true source. Was: Bug#402650: ITP: mozilla-foxyproxy
On 31/01/2007, at 9:48 AM, Don Armstrong wrote:
On Tue, 30 Jan 2007, Joey Hess wrote:
Don Armstrong wrote:
The bright line is actually pretty straight forward: Do you
file with syntactic whitespace or the file without? Is it preferable
to modify the file without the keyword expansion or with?
Preferable by whom?
The upstream maintainer. Whatever form(s) of the work the upstream
maintainer actually uses to modify the work is the prefered form for
Perhaps you could add a "wheeeeeee" every time you mention this here
-- it would help to convey the huge leap you're making there.
"Preferred" is subjective, and the subject is *not* specified in the
license, and certainly not to be the original author. As someone else
mentioned, if they'd meant "the form the author uses" then surely
they'd have said so. Fortunately, they were sufficiently with-it to
see the problems that that would cause, and went with "the preferred
form of the work for making modifications to it".
I don't think you're going to be able to come up with a clear answer
here, for several reasons. I think the most important is probably
going to be that intent matters. In the case of one piece of
software, standing alone, it's less important, but when we're talking
about interactions between works and license compatibility, it
becomes much more "interesting".
Say A writes a library and releases it under the GPL.
B later comes along and, as he's studying computer architecture,
decides as a challenge to himself to write a program directly in
machine code. It's not intended to be a useful program except as an
example of this process. He then releases that under the GPL.
C then sees B's program, decides that actually it could be really
handy, hacks it around so it now links to A's library, and makes the
result available under the GPL (including distributing the library).
A sees the result, tells C that he's obviously not releasing source
as specified in his license and to stop it. C points out that
actually, he is.
Do you think that this is acceptable? What about if B cheated at some
point and reused some previously assembled code? What about if B had
written it in C and then hand-compiled and assembled the code? The
extreme is of course that B is $evil_company, had foreseen C's
modifications, written the thing in C and not even pretended otherwise.
Where's the line? I think you'll find you just have to be reasonable
in each case, and hope that everyone else (particularly the court) is