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Re: Providing source for .iso files downloaded using bittorrent

"Marcelo E. Magallon" <mmagallo@debian.org> writes:

>  My interpretation of the whole thing is that in order to comply with
>  the terms of the GPLv2, we should put yet another file, README.GPLv2,
>  in the .iso explaining how to obtain the sources and accompany that
>  with the offer to provide source for three years, etc, etc, etc per
>  GPLv2§3(b).

Thanks very much for following that conversation and summarising here.

>  My own concern is that when using Bittorrent, the people downloading
>  the .iso start distributing the software *before* they had a chance
>  to read the license.

Oof. That's a good point: the GPL speaks of redistribution / propagation
as though it were an instantaneous action, or maybe a “transaction” in
programming terms: either complete, or not done at all.

But that's simply not how it works. Any download is going to take time,
and can be interrupted leaving part of the work downloaded. For a
one-way download that doesn't much matter, but peer-to-peer fragmentary
sharing exposes the oversimplification.

>  By redistributing you are already excersicing your rights under the
>  GPLv2, which means you have accepted all the terms and conditions.
>  What do you think?

You're right to bring it up, but I think the anonymous peer-to-peer
distribution method breaks traditional ideas of copying and hence the
applicability of copyright just isn't going to be clear in such cases.

One possible argument is to apply the intention of the GPLv3 authors
retrospectively to the GPLv2 intention: to argue that, though it's not
written in the terms, the licensor's intent is to permit “ancillary
propagation” (as per GPLv3§9) of a work under GPLv2. That's a pretty
weak argument, though.

 \        “Members of the general public commonly find copyright rules |
  `\        implausible, and simply disbelieve them.” —Jessica Litman, |
_o__)                                              _Digital Copyright_ |
Ben Finney

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