selling GPL sources

Rick Moen rick at
Mon Sep 19 23:57:17 UTC 2005

Quoting Ian Lance Taylor (ian at
> "Guilherme C. Hazan" <guich at> writes:
> > I'm aware of a program that uses the GPL license and the author made
> > the binaries free but not the sources. He asks a fee for the sources
> > (about 100usd).
> > 
> > Is this legal or is he infringing the GPL license?
> The GPL permits "a charge no more than your cost of physically
> performing source distribution."  If his cost is 100USD or greater,
> than he is not infringing.  If his cost is less than 100USD, then he
> is infringing.

So, he'll have to sue himself for copyright infringement?

I personally cannot see the legal theory under which the copyright owner
has a legal duty to produce his own source code, _if_ it's not a
derivative work of someone else's creation, a copy of which he accepted 
and used under GPL terms.

I would call the described action somewhere along the line between
less-than-clueful, misleading, and slightly sleazy, in that the author
has spoken of GPL source code access but then declined to extend it.
So, this is claimed to be an open source codebase but, so far, is not in
actuality.  But that is not unlawful.

In like fashion, some people have been known to claim that a codebase of
their creation is BSD-licensed, but never released anything but
binaries:  That is then _ostensibly_ BSD-licensed code, but not in
substance -- and yet that, too, is not any obvious sort of tort against
anyone, just a bit comical.

Cheers,                   Mark Moraes: "Usenet is not a right."
Rick Moen            Edward Vielmetti: "Usenet is a right, a left, a jab,
rick at                     and a sharp uppercut to the jaw.
                                        The postman hits!  You have new mail."

More information about the License-discuss mailing list