Restriction on distribution by Novell?

Ben Tilly btilly at
Tue Sep 26 23:17:02 UTC 2006

On 9/26/06, Wilson, Andrew <andrew.wilson at> wrote:
> Matthew Flaschen wrote:
> > I also think it is irrelevant whether the third
> > party has any binary (regardless of its source).
> >
> > I haven't seen anything (except Wilson's recall of his conversation
> with
> > Moglen) supporting the idea that possession of a binary is required.
> No, please quote me correctly.  My position (same as McCoy's) is
> that only recipients with a written offer have standing to request
> sources from a distributor under the Ts and Cs of that offer.
> And how do you get a written offer?  You get it in
> the box with the binaries.  In other words, you are a direct
> distributee.

Um, not so fast.  If a distributee passes on the offer to you, you now
have a written offer even though you are not the direct distributee.
And under the GPL v2, you have the right to exercise that offer and it
must be honored.

What is an open question in my mind is whether the original copy of
that offer is required or whether a copy will do.  Both the FSF FAQ
and the text of the GPL make it clear that it is *intended* that a
copy is good enough.  (For instance the Preamble, paragraph 4,
indicates that after distribution under 3 c, both the distributer and
distributee should have the right to get source.)  And I've never
heard of anyone applying it in any other way.  But the license doesn't
actually SAY that you can't require that someone have the original
written offer.

That said, the point is fairly unimportant.  Any company trying to
insist on originals would provide a level of minor annoyance, and but
in the end they'll give people source and those people are free to


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