Restriction on distribution by Novell?

Ben Tilly btilly at
Tue Sep 26 21:24:33 UTC 2006

On 9/26/06, Juergen Weigert <jw at> wrote:
> On Sep 26, 06 11:21:02 -0700, Ben Tilly wrote:
> > On 9/26/06, Brian Behlendorf <brian at> wrote:
> > If that is their rationale, I think this would be a violation of the
> > GPL V2.  As item 6 says, "You may not impose further restrictions on
> > the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein."  Attempting to
> > impose further restrictions based on a contract would clearly violate
> > that.
> The GPL does not grant any support.
> Novell can restrict support, without violating the GPL. No?

That seems to me to be a grey area.  I suspect you're right, but
wouldn't want to bet either way.  In particular the question is
whether, "We'll take away something you were paying us for" isn't an
attempt to impose restrictions.  Sure, they COULD still use the
rights, but at what cost?

Let's modify the example to demonstrate why this is problematic.  If
what you're describing is OK under the GPL, then can I sign a contract
with you saying that if you exercise your rights under the GPL, you
owe me a million dollars?  Again I can argue that I am not really
FORCING you to not exercise your rights, but I wouldn't want to bet
that a judge would see things that way.

In any case if Novell doesn't ship source with the software the entire
point is moot.  Because Novell is obligated to give source to any
third party who wants it.


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