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"Preferred form for making modifications"

From: Bernd Jendrissek
Subject: "Preferred form for making modifications"
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 11:32:11 +0000 (UTC)
User-agent: tin/1.7.10-20050929 ("Tahay") (UNIX) (Linux/ (i686))

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(Or however the GPL defines "source code".)

Suppose I want to release some software but I either don't want to or
cannot (my house burned down 10 years ago and I lost the source
scenario) release source code for it.

Is it still possible for (legal) recipients of my software to
redistribute (potentially hex-hacked) copies under the GPL I grant them?

My first instinct (and IANAL so it's most likely wrong; please tell me
exactly how and why if so) is that it would be okay, because I would be
the copyright holder and hence I get to define what the "preferred form"
for modification is for licensees.  That I might have or might once have
had a more convenient form is my private matter.  Or is it?

The reason I wonder is that there is still an awful lot of old software
floating around that is still useful to some people, and for all I know
the source code may be lost forever.  Supposing the copyright holder can
be tracked down, and is willing to cooperate, is it conceivably possible
to get all this stuff released under the GPL?

- -- 
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