Restriction on distribution by Novell?

Russ Nelson nelson at
Wed Sep 27 15:43:47 UTC 2006

justin at writes:
 > The updates in this case are software updates under various OSI  
 > certified licenses (i.e. GPL, etc) which prohibit restriction on  
 > distribution.
 > Have I missed something here, or is Novell doing the wrong thing?

Several points to make here:

1) Novell could be claiming a compilation copyright on the particular
set of patches they supply to you, in which case you might be able to
redistribute the patches separately, but not that exact set of
patches.  Since the GPL doesn't apply to the entire set, there is no
infringement here.

2) These are patches.  They are not necessarily supplied to you under
the GPL.

3) It's possible that the contract doesn't forbid you from
distributing the patches, but instead says "If you distribute them,
you forfeit some other benefit, like support, or a guarantee".

4) You have phrased this in a legal context, but there are also market
concerns.  Just because Novell might have the legal right to restrict
distribution of the patches, the marketplace might reject that.

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