[License-discuss] plain text license versions?

Richard Fontana rfontana at redhat.com
Thu Sep 6 23:12:22 UTC 2012

On Thu, Sep 06, 2012 at 06:13:11PM -0400, John Cowan wrote:
> Richard Fontana scripsit:
> > That assumes that the printed text is not "source code" in the sense
> > meant in sections 1 and 2 of GPLv2 but is instead "object code or
> > executable form" (section 3). I believe the better interpretation of
> > GPLv2 is that text in a printed book is "source code ... in any
> > medium" (the particular medium being printed text); thus you never
> > reach section 3.
> "The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for
> making modifications to it."  

Leaving aside the fact that this definition only appears in section 3
(GPLv3 is different here), I regard the preferred form of
human-readable text as human-readable text (e.g. not some encoded or
obfuscated form), which GPLv2 section 1 says I can distribute "in any
medium". "In any medium" implies that the source code (even if it is
by definition "the preferred form for making modifications") can be
distributed without triggering section 3 regardless of the nature of
the medium of distribution. If your interpretation is correct then the
question arises why the words "in any medium" appear in GPLv2 section
1. It doesn't say "You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the
Program's source code as you receive it, provided that you only do so
in a machine-readable medium that is preferable as a medium for
modification of the source code". IOW I think "form" and "medium" must
mean different things in the GPL.

- RF

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