Source code distribution for derivatives (Re: Concerns)

Matt Zimmerman mdz at
Sat Jan 6 21:30:47 GMT 2007

On Sun, Dec 24, 2006 at 05:31:12AM -0600, Christofer C. Bell wrote:
> On 12/20/06, Matt Zimmerman <mdz at> wrote:
> > Where they're using identical source code from a supported Ubuntu release,
> > they can point to us.  Where they're modifying or adding software, they need
> > to provide that source code.
> Matt, I'm not sure that's good enough.  At least not according to the
> Free Software Foundation[1].  If one is creating a derivative
> distribution, that author must provide the sources to *all* software
> they are distributing, even that which they've not modified.  Has this
> stance on the FSF's part changed?

I am neither providing legal advice nor representing the FSF (or any other
relevant copyright holder, other than myself), only expressing the
willingness of the Ubuntu project to distribute source code.  However, what
I have said is that Ubuntu is bound by the same requirements to distribute
source code, and therefore it will always be available from us under terms
compliant with its license(s).  Indeed, we still distribute source code for
all Ubuntu releases, going back to Warty, and have stated that we are
willing to offer support to derivatives by formally committing to
distributing source code if it helps them to meet licensing requirements.

Therefore, David Turner's scenario in the article you quoted (that the
upstream distributor will cease to distribute the relevant source code) does
not apply to Ubuntu.

 - mdz

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