Redefining GPL?

Michael Bernstein webmaven at
Thu Nov 30 05:29:50 UTC 2006

I am aware of a company that recently publicly released code (under the
GPL) to several web-applications that they no longer consider to be
competitive advantages.

The twist is, that they have explicitly defined 'distribution' that
triggers the republication requirement to include publicly hosting a
modified version of the application. And insist that they are within
their rights to do so.

I've tried reasoning with them by posting comments on their blog
(including pointing them at the relevant sections of the FSF's GPL FAQ),
but the comments were never published. I do know they have read my
comments though, as they followed up to clarify the 'confusion of some
people in the open-source community' (ie. we're just confused, and
they're right).

On top of this, they mangle the GPL in a couple of other ways:
        - They specify their subversion repository as the required means
        of republishing modifications
        - The LICENSE file has a pre-preamble added before the GPL to
        define distribution and republishing as described above (I
        believe this violates the FSF's copyright on the license)

And finally, their pre-announcement blog-post is using the OSI logo as a
sort of endorsement.

I'm not interested in outing these folks publicly just yet, but I am
also clearly not getting through to them (nor do I have any more time to
try and get them to listen to me). Therefore, I'd like to hand this off
to someone more authoritative and better equipped to get their attention
and get them to do the right thing.


- Michael R. Bernstein

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