OSD modification regarding what license can require of user

Brian Behlendorf brian at collab.net
Thu Mar 14 01:50:04 UTC 2002

On Wed, 13 Mar 2002, John Cowan wrote:
> To be concrete, suppose I provide a "fast grepping" service.  You send me
> a regex and some URLs, and I use GNU grep to to send you specific parts
> of the documents specified by the URLs.  We will neglect whether the
> copyright of the document's author is breached by this.
> If I make private modifications to GNU grep to improve it, I don't see
> that the GPL (in letter or spirit) requires me to redistribute those
> modifications.  I am *using* grep to provide a service.

Or take it even further, and consider the case where people use privately
modified software to provide some other service.  For example, people send
me images via email or Zip disk, and I use a modified Gump to create some
really nice effects and email/Zip disk the modified images back.  Now it's
not even a "web service", in that it's not automatically called, but it's
still used as a crucial step in the delivery of a service.  Would I be
(legally, morally, ethically) required to share the code to my
modifications to Gump?  Is the fact that it's automated in John's example
and not automated in mine relevant?

(For the purposes of this example I'm assuming Gump has a GPL license and
doesn't make exceptions for plug-ins)


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