OSI enforcement?

Philippe Verdy verdy_p at wanadoo.fr
Thu Jan 10 22:50:14 UTC 2008

> -----Message d'origine-----
> De : Raj Mathur [mailto:raju at linux-delhi.org]
> Envoyé : jeudi 10 janvier 2008 04:43
> À : license-discuss at opensource.org
> Objet : Re: OSI enforcement?
> On Thursday 10 Jan 2008, Rick Moen wrote:
> > [snip]
> > So, the correct answer to "Where can I get RHEL5 Update 1 Server
> > Edition's gcc binary RPM for less than Red Hat, Inc. charges?" turns
> > out to be "Well, in practice you probably can't, but you can have
> > something very similar for free that you should regard as for most
> > practical purposes functionally the same."
> Er, excuse me, but where in the GPL (or any of the other OSI-approved
> licences) does it state ``you must give your software away for free to
> whoever asks for it''?  The GPL (and other copyleft licences) only
> require you to distribute source code to anyone to whom you have
> distributed the binaries.  They do not (repeat: NOT) require you to
> give your binaries away to anyone.

This is written in the GPL: every right or obligation you give to a user
with your distribution under the licence is applicable to downstream users,
even if the latter did not interact with you.

You don't need then to have provided legally the binary to any user that
requests you the sources, because there's absolutely no way to control the
downstream redistribution: one of your initial licensees may have collected
the binaries, as well as the sources, then delivered a recompilation of
these sources, possibly after modification while also preserving the
copyright notice.

Then a downstream user will want to control the modifications that may have
been performed, and will ask you for the sources of your initial binary
distribution. They have the right to request you these sources directly, if
they don't trust the modification made by their direct distributor. This is
certainly great a security feature, and a way to control the copyright
assignments and real authorship of every part of sources.

Users of any GPL'ed softwares are not limited to ask for the sources only to
their direct distributors, they can request them to any party that was
involved in the creation or modification of the software or its
distribution, and they don't need any prior arrangement with you (but if
they request these sources to you, they are necessarily accepting the terms
of the licence to exercise its associated rights, something that is not
implied if they just use or modify the software for their own usage without
redistributing it to anyone). Note that there's no required prior mutual
signature to get and use any binary or source GPL'ed distribution...

The full acceptance of the licence (and its obligations) is only implied (in
fact required) when you exercise the rights to distribute the software (or
any covered part or modifications of it) or the right to get the sources,
because this is the ONLY legal way to use them and nothing outside of the
licence guarantees these rights to you.

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