Again - How To Break The GPL

cszigetv csaba.szigetvari at
Wed Mar 22 12:04:38 UTC 2000

At the end of this mail is part of an article from OS Opinion about
TurboLinux' delays the distribution of their modified code, while (as I
assume) they distribute binaries.

The GPL is not specific on when the modifications have to be made
available, though I always assumed that it should happen simultaneously
with the binary distribution. The delay imposed by TurboLinux is not
much (2 months), but then again, next time someone makes it 6 months, 1
year, 2 years...

Could someone with legal experience or deep GPL-knowledge tell me if the
GPL really could be bypassed by this delay trick? I fear that the
TurboLinux lawyers did their homework, so working against this will not
be easy. 

You can not force someone to maintain a web/ftp site, press CD's and pay
for everything related to distribution. Even if there is a separate
binary distribution, it can be claimed that the source packages do not
fit on the disk, or just claim that the source CD is still in-production
... I'm not even sure if offering FTP or web space would help against
it. Any ideas?

---Csaba Szigetvári

PS: part of the article from OS Opinion

Making the GPL Obsolete

Several weeks ago, I read an article on the net about the release of
TurboLinux's new Enterprise Linux version, which had among other things,
built-in support for Clustering. Supposedly, TurboLinux modified the
kernel of Linux to accomplish this since they also released the source
code of their modifications. One thing that caught my eye though, was
the fact that they imposed a two-month delay on releasing the
source-code to the general public and hence their competitors. Now, to
most people this may not seem like much, but technically, this action
alone could destroy the Open Source movement. For example, if this were
allowed this would let any Linux vendor make changes to the Linux kernel
(or any other Open Source program) and specify some arbitrary amount of
time before the changes are released. Two months, six months, a year,
two years, a hundred years!! This would set a very serious precedent and
would eventually destroy the credibility of the GPL if it weren't fought
against in court. Which brings about the second question. Who is going
to take whom to court if the GPL isn't followed to the letter? Is it
Linux ?? Torvalds against TurboLinux, GNU vs. TurboLinux, Richard
Stallman vs. TurboLinux? So far, I haven't seen any response from anyone
regarding this stunt.

More information about the License-discuss mailing list