GNU GPL and Open Source Definition

Brian Behlendorf brian at
Wed Apr 28 05:13:49 UTC 1999

On Wed, 28 Apr 1999, Jeff Alami wrote:
> AT, in Article 3, the GPL states that
> you may sell binaries and executable code at any price you see fit, without
> corresponding source code. If you do so, you're required to provide source code
> at a subsequent request. However, unlike what's said in the Open Source
> Definition, you may also charge for the source code (to a reasonable extent, of
> course). The Open Source Definition Article 2 states that "there must be a
> well-publicized means of downloading the source code, without charge, via the
> Internet."

I think the error is in the OSD.  The above article is clearly a mandate
of the open source *project*, maybe of the *distribution* of that
project, but not of the license.  In fact, by your interpretation, the GPL
is not the only OSD-certified license which would not be compliant.

So if the OSD is simply an algorithm for evaluating licenses, this article
should be re-examined.  Do we need a companion algorithm to evaluate "Open
Source" distributions, and maybe another to evalate the "Open Source"
quotient of a project as a whole?  Hmm, maybe.


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