[mythtv-users] Re: New user and question about GPL

Gavin Hurlbut gjhurlbu+mythtv-users at beirdo.ca
Thu Dec 9 18:01:01 UTC 2004

Lane Schwartz <dowobeha at gmail.com> wrote:
> Short answer: The company is correct.

Short answer: no they aren't

> If a company sells GPL software in binary form, they are obligated to
> provide the source code, upon request, to anyone who purchased the
> software from them. They are under this obligation for a minimum of 3
> years after each sale.

No, it's to "ANY THIRD-PARTY" (emphasis mine of course).

>>From the GPL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html)

> 3.  You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it,
> under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of
> Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

>     a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable
> source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1
> and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

i.e. source on the distribution CD, etc.

>     b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
> years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of
> physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable
> copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the
> terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for
> software interchange; or,

Notice that this is to *any* third party, not to just customers.  This is what
should force said company to give anyone the source on request.  You will
notice it doesn't say only to those that purchased from them.

>     c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer
> to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is allowed
> only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the
> program in object code or executable form with such an offer, in
> accord with Subsection b above.)

This doesn't apply to the company directly, but rather to its customers
redistributing GPL'd source code.

I am not a lawyer (would be interesting to hear from Wendy on this one) but
as I read it, if you distribute binary only you *MUST* provide source to
anyone who requests it.  I did not see any type of stipulation that it must
be to paying customers only.  As a matter of fact, using part c) above, if I
get a copy from you (who did pay), I can get a copy of the offer for source
code given to you by the company via part b) and they'd have to honor it.

Short answer: they have to give the source code to anyone who asks.  If they
don't they seem to be in violation of the GPL, talk to a lawyer. :)

/me kicks the soapbox away.


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