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Re: [PROPOSAL] Full text of GPL must be included

Brian Mays wrote:

> > If here "you" refers to Debian, then we are not violating the GPL.
> > We distribute all of the packages, including "base", which contains
> > the a copy of the GPL.  We distribute the program AND we give our
> > recipients a copy of the license.  If they decide to take one and
> > junk the other, that is not our responsibility.

Joey Hess <joeyh@debian.org> replied:

> Even if everyone agrees with this..
> > Now, licensees who distribute one of our GPLed packages without also
> > distributing the "base" package are violating the GPL.  That is not
> > us, however.

> This is a hell of an onus to put on anyone who wants to redistribute a
> .deb file though. If Debian user Fred wants to give Bob a package he
> downloaded, the mere act of copying it onto a floppy and giving it to
> Bob would be violating the GPL, yes?

I see three possibilities that will end this mess:

1) Bob is a Debian user.  No problem.  He already has a copy of the GPL
   on his system.

2) Fred gives Bob the deb file and the GPL.  Is it really that
   hard?  Come on now.  If Fred is a Debian user, then he has the GPL on
   his system.  For the most part, it will not matter.  Will anyone sue
   Fred because he broke the GPL?  Certainly not.  Nevertheless, if Fred
   wants to be careful (make that anal retentive), he can include a
   copy of the GPL with any GPLed debs that he gives away.  It is the
   same requirement that he is under if he wanted to share a couple of
   GPLed source files with Bob.

3) Fred gives Bob the deb file and the source to the package.  Even RMS
   must admit that this is the best solution.  After all, the GPL
   assumes that Fred is doing this already or is implicitly offering to
   give Bob the sources within three years.  If Bob has the sources,
   then there is no problem, since the sources contain a copy of the

> > But we distribute a "whole system".  If a third party distributes a
> > subset of our system, which does not contain a copy of the GPL, is
> > it our responsibility?  I don't think so.

> It's not strictly our responsibility, but if our users cannot freely
> share Debian packages, I can imagine Debian could become much less
> appealing to them.

Such casual "sharing" of packages is not a problem.  As the example
above illustrates, the GPL already assumes that such "sharing" will
include the source, or includes an offer to provide the source.
Nevertheless, nobody loses sleep over this.

- Brian

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