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Re: Lawyer request stop from downloading Debian

On Sat, 23 Apr 2011, Stefan Hirschmann wrote:
The lawyer wants the poster to pay 700 Euro and stop uploading of Debian.
My opion is that this behavior is not good for Debian's reputation and the project should take legal action against the lawyer and this company.

It's my understanding that in Germany lawyers can do this to copyright
violators even though they are not the copyright holder.  And it's very likely
he's a copyright violator, so there's not much Debian can do.  No, really.

The GPL V2 requires that if you distribute, you either
a) accompany a binary with the source code
b) accompany it with a written offer to give everyone a copy of the source
code for three years, or
c) accompany it with an offer to distribute source code, if it's noncommercial
distribution and you received the program inder b).

It's very unlikely that b or c applies, and most people who torrent Linux
don't put a copy of the source code in the torrent, so a is unlikely.  The
problem is that on Bittorrent, everyone who downloads also uploads.  This
makes it illegal to download just a binary, since if you do that you're also
uploading just a binary, and uploading just a binary is a form of distribution
the GPL doesn't allow.

Which means he's (probably) technically a copyright violator, just a copyright
violator that everyone has agreed to ignore because the GPL V2 is unwieldy
that way.  But lawyers in Germany can go after copyright violators who the
copyright holders ignore.

The GPL V3 had to have a clause written in specifically allowing Bittorrent
(see http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#BitTorrent) because of the
problems legally using it with V2.

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