GPL compliance

Alexander Skwar listen at
Fri Jun 30 15:43:57 UTC 2006

ubuntu at wrote:
> Daniel Carrera wrote:
>> On Fri, 2006-30-06 at 16:35 +0200, Alexander Skwar wrote:
>>> I disagree. If a user got Ubuntu (or any GPL software) on CD and
>>> has no Internet, why should he be forced to buy something (Internet
>>> access) just so that he can make use of his rights? That doesn't make
>>> sense to me.
>> Indeed... the requirement on 3(a) of "medium customarily used for
>> software interchange" is a bit vague and fuzzy. My interpretation would
>> be that if you use the same medium you used for the binaries then that's
>> fair enough. So, if I'm distributing binaries on-line, then putting the
>> sources on-line on the same location would be ok. But if I'm giving you
>> the binaries on a CD, then the sources should be available on CD and I
>> expect that putting them on-line would *not* satisfy the 3(a)
>> requirement. But this interpretation is mostly a guess. The license text
>> on 3(a) really isn't very clear.
> I don't see it as all that fuzzy, and if anything, it's looser, not more
> restrictive.  Besides, this would be under section 3(b), assuming you
> got Ubuntu on CD.
> The requirement, in simple terms is any one of the following:
> a) Provide the source code right along with the binaries.
> b) Provide the source code somewhere else.
> c) Point to a 3rd party that will provide the source code.
> Don't try to parse a legal document as if it was a C program.  When it
> gets to court, standards of reasonableness apply.  Is online
> distribution a "medium customarily used for software interchange"?

It's not, if the user got the software not via online, because
he doesn't have access to the Internet.

> Well, how many millions of programs are distributed that way, including
> virtually every linux distribution ever made?

That doesn't matter. What matters is, how a user, who doesn't have
access to the internet, can make use of his rights. It's just not
his problem, if the distributor only choses to offer the source
code in a way, that's most convenient to the distributor. IMO, he
should offer it in a way, so that the user can get hold of it.
Offline users don't have access to online resources, thus, if the
source is only available online, then it's not available to him
and I'd think, that the distributor would be violating the GPL.

>  Someone trying to suggest
> that the internet is not often used to download programs would be
> laughed at.

No, I don't think so.

> Remember, the requirements are from the distributors perspective, not
> the end user.

Fine. The distributor has chosen to use CDs to distribute his
binary program. Then he should have the source available on
CD for distribution as well.

Alexander Skwar
Think sideways!
		-- Ed De Bono

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