Restriction on distribution by Novell?

Ben Tilly btilly at
Tue Sep 26 21:48:58 UTC 2006

On 9/26/06, Philippe Verdy <verdy_p at> wrote:
> From: "Ben Tilly" <btilly at>
> 3 years seems a reasonable time. But I don't think that Novell has this
> obligation for everyone that asks them for these sources, if Novell can
> prove that the requester did not have a valid licence from Novell when
> Novell distributed the GPLed source. But another consequence of these
> limitations is that Novell MUST keep an archive of all its past
> sublicencees for at least 3 years, so that the sublicencees can claim
> their legitimate limited support rights granted by the GPL.

This impression is wrong.  Furthermore your wrong impression was
already corrected.  In fact it was corrected in the very email you
were replying to.  (But not in the part of it that you quoted.)

Since you glossed over it before, PLEASE re-read section 3 of the GPL.
 In the highly unlikely event that you do not have a copy of the GPL
on your computer, you may find it at  You will find that Novell has 3
options when it comes to providing source.  They cannot use 3 c
because they are doing a commercial distribution.  They have not done
3 a (ship source with the binary).  Therefore they fall under 3 b and
must provide source to ANYONE who asks.

Not just people who licensed software from them.

Not just people who happen to have the binary.


This is important for two reasons.

The first is that it allows the copyright holder to investigate
possible GPL violations by asking for, and then inspecting, source.
(This is, in fact, the first step the FSF takes when investigating GPL

The second is that if you receive a binary from someone who is
distributing under 3 c, it makes the source offer they pass along
actually useful.


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