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Re: What is source ?

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: What is source ?
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2006 20:54:11 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.0.50 (gnu/linux)

Alexander Terekhov <> writes:

> David Kastrup wrote:
> [...]
>> Vertrags-Rechtsschutz for something which you downloaded by your own
>> volition without recompensation? 
> Many "by your own volition" contracts don't require "recompensation"
> in (direct) monetary sense, stupid. Licensee's obligations under the
> GPL is your "recompensation".

Priceless.  You mean if I tell somebody "you can take my car if you
don't puke into it", he can sue me for non-compliance of a contract if
he did indeed not puke into it, but the car broke down?  Because he
recompensated me for the car by not puking into it?

You really are a bit confused, dear Alexander.

As long as there is no tangible benefit for the licensor if the
licensee obeys his obligations for getting the benefits of the
license, I don't see where you base this off.

>>                                  You'll be laughed out of your
>> insurance's office.
> So go ahead if you're so sure (rather than starting a silly talk
> about icons) and drop a link to your GPL'd distribution of
> object-code-only of your computer program code.

I happen to be the maintainer of AUCTeX
<URL:>, copyright assigned to the
FSF, and main author of some of its parts.

The GPL demands:

    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.

    If distribution of executable or object code is made by offering
    access to copy from a designated place, then offering equivalent
    access to copy the source code from the same place counts as
    distribution of the source code, even though third parties are not
    compelled to copy the source along with the object code.

Now XEmacs distributes a version of AUCTeX in a package which has the
scripts with which we create various files removed.  In addition, they
don't distribute their own definition files for compiling the binary
package in their CVS tree, except by anonymous CVS.  This anonymous
CVS is not "the same place" as XEmacs package mirrors, and certainly
not the same place as the source packages of Linux distributions,
where just the XEmacs files excluding said package-specific build
scripts are contained.

So according to your legal theories, when you download an AUCTeX
package from the XEmacs repository, the copyright holder (the FSF) is
recompensated by you heeding the license, and thus you can sue the FSF
because XEmacs development does not include the full source, even
though the FSF has been recompensated by you.

Good luck with that suit.  Alternatively, you can sue XEmacs
development for not heeding the license from the FSF.  It will be
interesting to see how you can claim standing for _that_ one, either,
as you are not the party who has issued the license.

So there you are: some software of mine and a fitting case for you to
try your legal theories on.  Go ahead and have fun.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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