Restriction on distribution by Novell?

Ben Tilly btilly at
Tue Sep 26 22:12:23 UTC 2006

On 9/26/06, Wilson, Andrew <andrew.wilson at> wrote:
> Rick Moen wrote:
> >> No, not under GPLv2.  Novell's obligation to provide sources extends
> >> only to those who obtain a copy of the binary from Novell.
> >> GPLv3 may change this.
> >
> > Doesn't anyone _read_ the text?  Any lawful recipient (including
> > non-customers given copies of the work by customers) may invoke
> Novell's
> > clause 3b obligation to furnish corresponding source code to any third
> > party.
> Some of us have actually read the text and understood it. ;-)
> See my response to Matthew.  Your reading is incorrect.

I saw your response to Matthew.  I re-read the text.  I continue to
disagree with you.

> I actually had this discussion with Eben Moglen last week.
> Eben's position is that GPLv2 requires a duistributor to provide
> an offer for sources only to a distributee who is
> legitimately in possession of a binary obtained from
> that distributor.  This is why

This is correct.  The distributer is under no obligation to provide
*the offer* to anyone other than the distributees.

However said offer is good for *any third party*.  Therefore third
parties may obtain the sources, whether or not they possess a binary.
But the distributer does not have to tell the whole world how to
obtain it.

There is a fine line here.  For instance the distributer can
intentionally make it hard.  They could say that to get source you
must send a letter to Timbuktoo and include the phrase "Open Sesame!"
in it.  As long as doing that will produce a copy of the source, they
have met my understanding of the GPL.  But they can't, for instance,
say that you have to be a customer of theirs in order to get source.

> he intentionally broadened the language in the v3 draft
> to obligate a distributor to provide sources to anyone in
> possession of the corresponding GPL binary, no matter how or from whom
> the binary was obtained.

I believe you must be misremembering the conversation.

I do not see that language in, which still claims to
be the most current draft.  That draft still says "any third party",
just like the GPL v2 does.  And I don't see how "any third party in
possession of the binary" is broader than "any third party."


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