Source code distribution for derivatives (Re: Concerns)

Matt Zimmerman mdz at
Wed Jan 10 20:28:13 GMT 2007

On Wed, Jan 10, 2007 at 05:12:35PM +0000, Ian Jackson wrote:
> Matt Zimmerman writes ("Re: Source code distribution for derivatives (Re:
> Concerns)"):
> > I know of no reason why the distribution of source code to meet GPL
> > requirements should not be shared by a third party where exactly the
> > same
> > source code is involved.  The derivative is responsible for ensuring
> > that it
> > remains available, but it's perfectly reasonable for us to lend a hand
> > with
> > the mechanics of distributing it.
> The GPL says the source code distribution has to be offered `from the
> same place'.  There is of course some vagueness in this term but a
> different server owned and run by different people, organised
> differently, and with different physical location and different
> internet connectivity, is unlikely to count.

It says that it must "accompany it", and later explicitly that
"access...from the same place" counts as distribution.  Contracting a third
party to provide hosting or distribution services seems like a reasonable
approach.  The important thing is obviously that the source is available to
recipients of the software, not the particulars of the chain of people
responsible for providing it to them (which includes many third parties,
such as ISPs and hosting companies, regardless).

> And of course there is the problem of version skew that was mentioned
> earlier in the thread.  Versions of source disappear from the Ubuntu
> public archives when they are superseded (depending on the nature of
> the supercession).

Never for a released distribution.  Derivatives can count on the source
being available for releases at least for their full maintenance lifetime,
and in reality generally longer.

> Perhaps we should take this to devel-discuss or sounder ?

As this seems to be a genuine concern for developers of derivative
distributions, I think it's appropriate here.

 - mdz

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