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

Brian Frederick Kimball <bfk@footbag.org> wrote:

> Think of it this way: each "downloadable entity" that meets the above
> definition of "Program" needs to have the GPL inside it

Define "downloadable entity".  This is the problem.  Certainly a binary
executable or an individual file are both downloadable entities.  They
can both be downloaded by themselves.

> (or you need to make sure that each person that downloads the file
> gets a copy of the GPL from you).

I don't think that we need to "make sure" that the recipient does
anything.  The problem is that the phrase, "give any other recipients
of the Program a copy of this License" is vague.  What does "give"
mean?  Stallman may intend it to mean that we must force-feed it to the
recipient.  That tends to be his way.

I would prefer to interpret "give" as "provide to the recipient via the
same medium as the program."  Therefore, if a program is distributed on
a CD-ROM, the CD-ROM also contains a copy of the GPL; if the program is
distributed on an ftp site, the site also contains the GPL; if a file is
found in a directory tree, the directory tree also contains another file
with the GPL.

With this interpretation, we are NOT violating the GPL.  We distribute
the programs via ftp and on CD-ROM, and both our site and our CD-ROM
image contain the GPL.

> If its a deb, one GPL suffices.  Same with .tar.gzs.  If it's a .c
> in an unpacked source tree, that too needs a copy of the GPL if it
> meets the definition of a Program ("contains a notice placed by the
> copyright holder saying it may be distributed under the terms of this
> General Public License.").

Many (if not most) copylefted C source files contain such a notice as a
comment in the header and therefore satisfy the definition.  Since such
a file can be considered a "downloadable entity" (certainly any file can
be downloaded by itself), then by what you have said above, each file
must "have the GPL inside it."

My point is that we are not *required* to stick the GPL in every
copylefted package.  In my opinion, it is a waste of almost 7 kilobytes
per GPLed package in our archive.  With the number of GPLed packages
that we have, it starts to add up, both in storage space and bandwidth.

- Brian

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