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Re: web hosting providers' modified .debs

On Jan 24, 2008 7:41 AM, Arnoud Engelfriet <arnoud@engelfriet.net> wrote:
> This is actually a very intriguing question. If I have a shell account
> on someone's computer, and I can copy a binary that resides somewhere
> in /bin (or wherever), is the work being distributed to me?
> toad:~> ls -l /bin/ls
> -r-xr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  29624 Jan 15 04:30 /bin/ls*
> toad:~> cp /bin/ls myls
> toad:~>
> Can I now demand the source to /bin/ls from the administrators of 'toad'?

That is indeed an intriguing question. Within the GPL language of
"distribution", it's probably a little unclear. However, GPL v.3 would
appear to be a little tighter on the issue:

To "propagate" a work means to do anything with it that, without
permission, would make you directly or secondarily liable for
infringement under applicable copyright law, except executing it on a
computer or modifying a private copy. Propagation includes copying,
distribution (with or without modification), making available to the
public, and in some countries other activities as well.

To "convey" a work means any kind of propagation that enables other
parties to make or receive copies. Mere interaction with a user
through a computer network, with no transfer of a copy, is not

It seems clear enough that the administrators of toad are
"propagating" /bin/ls. And that "propagation" is one that "enables
other parties to make or receive copies". Nor is this "mere
interaction ... with no transfer of a copy" - *running* /bin/ls would
fit this category, but making a copy of /bin/ls in your home directory
is a different matter.

So this would seem to be "conveying" within the meaning of GPL v.3,
and thus will fall within clause 6 of GPL v.3, "Conveying Non-Source



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