Canonical’s IPRights Policy incompatible with Ubuntu licence policy

Richard Gaskin ambassador at
Tue May 5 14:57:02 UTC 2015

Jonathan Riddell wrote:

 > Lawyers will only write things in an unclear way when they want to
 > which on reading Michael's latest post on this thread seems to be
 > the case.

I've found it helpful to describe people's actions while avoiding 
attempts to describe their intentions.  Ultimately a person's intentions 
are known only to themselves, so it's often most productive to assume 
good intentions unless there is clear reason to believe otherwise.

In an imperfect world, people make mistakes.  In this case if there's a 
mistake at all it's only one of completeness, not having accounted for 
the unusual edge case in which someone would want to make a derivative 
work from Ubuntu but not run a compiler.

Many derivative works of Ubuntu exist, so it would appear few have felt 
this omission should stopped them from enjoying the freedoms granted to 
them under the GPL.

I believe that the willingness of Canonical's legal team to consider 
alternative wording to support even such rare edge cases speaks well of 
their good intentions.

 > On 5 May 2015 at 00:04, Michael Hall <mhall119 at> wrote:
 >> Because they are not Ubuntu and they are using Ubuntu's resources.
 > Wow, this shows a complete lack of understanding of the basics of the
 > Ubuntu community, upstream communities, downstream communities, free
 > software processes and the law.
 > You can not restrict what people do unless there's a contractual or
 > legal way to do that.  People can choose to not be Ubuntu and don't
 > get arbitrary restrictions put on them.  They can download all the
 > packages they want from the mirrors that host the packages we make.
 > If you want to restrict how much people do that you need to put a
 > password on the servers to do so.  You can't pretend there's an
 > arbitrary cutoff just because you don't like people not being Ubuntu.

The GPL obliges those who distribute object code governed by that 
license to also make source code available.  These obligations exist 
only for one's own distribution, and neither object code nor source is 
required be provided specifically through a server.

I haven't seen language in either GPL v2 or v3 which obliges an entity 
distributing their own work to also provide hosting services to all 
possible derivative works.

Since I'm not an attorney I accept that I may be mistaken on this, and 
would welcome correction if such an obligation can be found in a 
relevant license.

But as a practical matter, it seems reasonable that an entity 
distributing their own work would not be encumbered by what could 
potentially be thousands or millions of derivative works.  Such a 
requirement to build and maintain an ever large server farm only to meet 
the needs of developers other than themselves would seem prohibitively 
onerous, inhibiting the proliferation of free software.

  Richard Gaskin
  Fourth World Systems

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