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Re: web hosting providers' modified .debs

On Jan 24, 2008 11:41 AM, Matthew Johnson <mjj29@debian.org> wrote:
> On Thu Jan 24 11:37, John Halton wrote:
> > 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
> > Forms".
> So, do we need to have the sources all installed on our shell hosts? or
> a written offer good for three years to provide the source?

That does sound a bit excessive, I agree. But it's difficult to see
how this can be avoided, unless you make it impossible to transfer
files from users' home directories on toad to their own local systems.
If you were to do that, then arguably no "conveying" would occur as an
copying would be done on a remote system as "mere interaction over a
computer network". But I'm guessing that prohibiting file transfers in
this way would create rather more problems than it would solve!

A contrary interpretation - that this is not "conveying" - would leave
a massive loophole in the GPL, because you could say, "We are not
going to distribute our modified software directly. No, instead we're
going to give people shell access by which they can then copy the
software to their remote home directory and thence to their own local

That said, I would be *delighted* if someone can show me where I've
gone wrong in my analysis. I don't claim to be a world expert on GPL

> Maybe having a deb-src line is good enough since users can run apt-get
> source?

Clause 6(d) of GPL allows the source to be made available in this way,
so I assume that would be fine. However, you would need to ensure the
relevant details were given "next to" the object code, whatever *that*
means (a README for every affected file in /bin? i.e. /bin/ls.README
etc? ***shudder***).



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