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Re: "Preferred form for making modifications"

From: Stefaan A Eeckels
Subject: Re: "Preferred form for making modifications"
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006 12:32:36 +0100

On Mon, 27 Feb 2006 08:47:58 +0000 (UTC)
"Bernd Jendrissek" <> wrote:

> In article <> Rui
> Miguel Silva Seabra <> wrote:
> >Maybe, but since there's no source code, there's little value in
> >using the GPL, and if it was used, a distributor could find himself
> >in infringement since he could not comply with the source related
> >parts.
> That's very interesting.  What exactly does "source" or "preferred
> form for making modifications" mean in this context?  Is it whatever
> the copyright holder decrees it to be (the binary itself in this
> case), or is there some absolute standard for what "source" is,
> related to the form in which the program was *originally* written?

There can only be what the copyright holder decides the "source" code
to be. If there's nothing left but the binary, then obviously the GPL
makes little sense; any license that permits distribution of the
program would be equally effective.

> GPLv2 Section 3 states:
> >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.
> So... is "preferred form" referred to the *original* author, or to the
> immediately upstream provider?  Thinking of binary-only redistribution
> as similar to reimplementation in INTERCAL seems to work for me: you'd
> be redistributing a *derived* work, and you only need to provide the
> source code for the *derived* work, not the original.  Yes?  No?

You only need to provide what you received, or prepared under the GPL.
Thus, if you re-implement a GPLed work in Perl you only have to
distribute the source code of the derivative work (though providing the
original in Intercal would be a nice gesture :-) to comply with the

> Three bags full?

of goggas, man :-)

As complexity rises, precise statements lose meaning,
and meaningful statements lose precision. -- Lotfi Zadeh 

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