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Re: The worst that can happen to GPLed code

From: Barry Margolin
Subject: Re: The worst that can happen to GPLed code
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2004 17:27:03 -0400
User-agent: MT-NewsWatcher/3.4 (PPC Mac OS X)

In article <cal259$jcl$>,
 Chris Jefferson <> wrote:

> Brian Gough wrote:
> > Chris Jefferson <> writes:
> > 
> > 
> >>Also, let me point out that (I hope) I'm not a troll. I've just been 
> >>working on a project with some friends and we are now considering what 
> >>licence to release it under. I'd quite like the GPL, but a number of my 
> >>friends would perfer a "you can read the code, but you can't distribute 
> >>altered versions" style licence.
> > 
> > 
> > Chris,
> > 
> > Both the scenarios you suggest would allow to you make a legal case
> > against someone.
> > 
> Thanks.. just a couple more questions :)
> If we put the binary on the website, I get the feeling we have to 
> promise to provide the source FOREVER to anyone who gets a copy of the 
> binary. Surely we don't have to give the source away forever? can we 
> offer the source to download next to the binary and tell people to 
> download both then claim they had the opportunity to get the source and 
> if the didn't take it, tough?

I think putting both binary and source next to each other on a 
distribution site is generally considered to meet the requirement to 
"accompany [the binary form] with the ... source code" in section 3a of 
the GPL.

Also, even if it didn't, where did you get the idea that you have to 
provide source code forever?  Section 3b specifically says "Accompany it 
with a written offer, valid for at least three years...."  You could 
make it valid forever if you wanted, but you're only required to support 
3 years.

> I'm reading this:
> The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for
> making modifications to it.  For an executable work, complete source
> code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any
> associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to
> control compilation and installation of the executable.  However, as a
> special exception, the source code distributed need not include
> anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary
> form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the
> operating system on which the executable runs, unless that component
> itself accompanies the executable.
> Neither mingw or vc++7.1 come with a copy of make or autoconf by 
> default. Do we have to distribute them?

No, I don't think those are considered "scripts used to control 
compilation and installation of the executable."  That line is talking 
about the CONFIGURE and/or INSTALL scripts that might be needed (which 
could be generated using autoconf, I suppose).

> The directX headers aren't distributed either, but you can download them 
> from microsoft's website at the moment. However microsoft has removed 
> old versions of the headers as time goes on? So do we have to distribute 
> them?
> Old versions of windows don't come with directX 8. Do we have to 
> distribute that? DirectX 8 wasn't "normally distributed" with windows 95 
> ,clearly isn't under the GPL and could be removed by microsoft at a 
> later date. In that case can we even use directX unless we get a directX 
> redistribution licence, and even then it's surely a non-gpled library?
> Sorry for the questions, but I'm wondering exactly where the line 
> between "things that come with operating system / compiler" and 
> "external libraries" should be drawn.

Did you see the thread a couple of months ago?  Someone was asking 
similar questions about a database library.  I don't remember if there 
was a concensus reached.

Barry Margolin,
Arlington, MA
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