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Re: Appropriate List for GPL Discussions?

From: D.C. Parris
Subject: Re: Appropriate List for GPL Discussions?
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2006 00:42:46 -0500
User-agent: KNode/0.9.2

Alfred M. Szmidt wrote:

>    Is this the appropriate list for general GPL discussions?
> Sure.

Are you guys aware of the dispute over some of the code in the former
Lycoris distro, namely Iris, and other Desktop LX packages?  I am
attempting to get some input while I am awaiting further information on
this issue.  I wrote two articles previously about this:

Essentially, by admission, Mandriva has not made the Iris code available,
due to the fact that the code is sitting on a computer in storage. 
According to GPLv2, section 4, a user's right to "... copy, modify,
sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically
terminate your rights under this License."

Some are charging that Lycoris never made source code available - not only
for Iris, but for a number of other packages either.  I understand that
since Mandriva purchased Lycoris, or perhaps more accurately, some of
Lycoris' assets, they have inherited Lycoris' legal obligations.  Whether
they bought the company or a limited set of assets seems to be up for
dispute.  Whether and how that affects the outcome is beyond me.  Also,
Mandriva is not currently distributing actual code from the Lycoris Desktop
LX, but rather a re-implentation of that code (according to them).

The FSF is not commenting, and is starting to look into it
as well.  It seems a fairly complicated mess, and will likely be very
difficult to enforce at this stage of the game.  I have always held
Mandrake/Mandriva in high regard, and am a strong supporter of the GPL.  It
is difficult to imagine that Mandriva has inherited a potentially serious
legal headache.  

I wonder, to what extent is Mandriva really liable, especially if they have
in fact inherited Lycoris' failure to comply with the GPL?  While I think
the community is largely very forgiving, what is the effect of the
auto-termination clause?  How should the community view this?  

Mandriva has promised to make the source code available as soon as they can
physically access them (the code is on computers in the US, while the owner
is in France).  That, by itself doesn't void the auto-termination clause,
though.  One might be fairly lenient for another two or three months, but
it would seem they are still on shaky legal ground if they attempt to
distribute Iris.

But what about the other GPL'ed packages?  For instance, Bash and NCurses
are among the programs that Lycoris allegedly failed to include sources
for.  I doubt Mandriva could be held responsible for that if they have been
making the sources to these programs available themselves.  However, if
they have inherited Lycoris' legal obligations, then what?

I hope my post is not too incoherent.  I mainly wanted to get some input
from folks who may be more experienced than myself with issues like this. 
Is it really a serious issue, or a "tempest in a teapot"?  I appreciate
your input.

DC Parris
The Freely Project (USA)

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