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Re: Question about the GPL copyright notice and the statement of copying

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Question about the GPL copyright notice and the statement of copying permission not being included in all the source files of a product.
Date: 01 Jul 2004 10:35:10 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.3.50 (Carthik) writes:

> David Kastrup <> wrote in message 

> > The product is licenced under whatever licence you received it
> > under.  For publicly accessible downloads, it is a reasonable
> > assumption that files with a GPL header are licenced to you under
> > the GPL.

> If there is a license.txt in teh bundle, and no GPL copyright
> statements or anything else related to GPL in the individual source
> files, is the product (bundle) GPLed, are the source files GPLed?

The source files are whatever licence you received it under.  It's
like asking "if I have book here, is it borrowed, sold, or a gift?
Can I rip out pages?".  The question does not make sense.  Now if the
book carries an inscription "Dear Carthik, I am a great fan of yours
and would like to give this book to you to do whatever you want with
it", then it is a reasonable assumption that you can do whatever you
want with it.  If it later turns out that this book was actually
stolen from somebody, you have to hand it back.  But you'll probably
not be punished even if you tore out pages from that book, as you were
led to expect it is yours.  If the book just ends up at your door
without any clue about its origin and you tear out pages and the next
day your neighbour asks whether his book was delivered to your door,
you could get into trouble.

Even though in the front of the book there is small print allowing
the owner of the book to rip out pages.

> I want to know if the product I received and the source files that
> constitute the product are GPLed. Maybe that's a better way of
> describing my question.

Then ask the person that gave it to you.  Nothing else solves this
question.  Software does not magically become GPLed because some
smartass packs a licence file together with it.  It does not come
GPLed if you put GPL headers in it, either.  It becomes GPLed if the
copyright holder gives it to you under the GPL, or if someone that
received it in that manner passes it on.

Copyright headers are a rather clear indication that this has
happened, or that somebody is pretending it did maliciously, so they
put you on a reasonably safe footing.  Having an independent licence
file flowing around somewhere is less reassuring.

> > No, but it is prudent.

> The No is puzzling, cause if you do not mention anything about the
> GPL in the source files (all of them) then what "part" of the
> product _is_ GPLed?

Whatever parts the person that gave you to it told you is GPLed by
him or somebody else, and for which he can state so with authority.

> > The product is under the licence you received it under.  If
> > nothing has been specified explicitly and no reasonably assumption
> > in the form of a licence file or licence header exists, there is
> > no reason for you to assume the GPL.
> My question is, to repeat myself, If a bundle (Tar file if you
> will), includes a GPL license document, but none of the source files
> in the bundle do, is the product GPLed, are the source files GPLed?

It seems like the concept does not enter your head.  The licencing is
something governing the transfer of the software, not the software

You own a book if you acquire it from somebody who owns it.  Not
because there is some small print in the book that tells you that you
own it.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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