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Re: GPL2 + required to have the place to get the recent version

So, technically, he can't actually add restrictions to the license after he's license them, and if these are taken to not be part of the license, you'd be safe to just follow the license as usual.

But if this informal text is taken to reflect the intent of the parties, then it might kind of reflect on how the license is meant to be followed, which isn't great. It's not only inconsistent with the spirit of the GPL, but also the language, as it talks about "use," seems to require a direct link to "the recent version..." A lot of companies have been offering alternative interpretations of the GPL, and theoretically if those interpretations are taken as evidence of the intent of the parties, they might affect the contract. Or they might be seen as parol evidence, IE not relevant to the contract, but it's hard to say. So I wouldn't advise risking it...

But the text is informal and the party seems to not really understand the license to begin with (again, he's talking about "use," that's not really even relevant to copyright law), so he might not really mean anything by it. I would not assume ill intent. It might be worthwhile to informally reach out to this community and help develop language that just clarifies what the GPL already says, instead of conflicting with it. The community might appreciate that. Worst case, they get angry and defensive, and attempt to move to a different (presumably proprietary) license, in which case, you learned the easy way that they don't play nice. Don't learn the hard way.


Daniel J. Hakimi
B.S. Philosophy, RPI 2012
B.S. Computer Science, RPI 2012
J.D. Cardozo Law 2015

On Tue, Nov 12, 2019 at 6:36 PM Samuel Henrique <samueloph@debian.org> wrote:
Hello legal,

So I stumbled upon this rather interesting case of a software licensed by
GPL2 but with an extra "clause" to it:
# If you enclose this script or parts of it in your software, it has to
# be accompanied by the same license (see link) and the place where to get
# the recent version of this program. Do not violate the license and if
# you do not agree to all of these terms, do not use it in the first place.

The release notes for 3.0. r5 also mentions:
This program is licensed under GPL-2. Please note also that if you're using the program for a paid or free public service you need mention where you got this program from.

It seems that the author is trying to prevent people from setting up webpages using this
software as a backend without crediting it. It seems like a reasonable think to ask for.

My question is regarding DFSG compliance around this, I believe there is nothing wrong with
it, but the fact that upstream expose is as GPL-2 seems a little misleading, as it's not plain GPL-2 and I think we should change something in d/copyright to address this.

Are you aware of other software that are in a similar situation? I would like to see what
d/copyright looks like. For this case the package was accepted by ftp-master with a
d/copyright that states it as GPL-2.


Samuel Henrique <samueloph>

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