[wellylug] Linux as selling point.

David Murray newslists at electronincantation.net.nz
Thu Aug 11 06:27:49 NZST 2005

On Wed, 2005-08-10 at 22:51, Bret Comstock Waldow wrote:
> On Wed, 10 Aug 2005 21:17, David Murray wrote:
> > But if you're distributing an
> > electronic gadget that has unmodified GPL'd software included as a
> > built-in component part of the gadget...
> I believe I understand the idea, but it doesn't appear to be so.  As I 
> mentioned, article 3 states that if I distribute the binaries commercially, I 
> must provide the source on request.

But if the binaries are embedded within an electronic device and are not
easily available to copy for use by the purchaser of the electronic
gadget, then how does that constitute distributing software?

The manufacturer sold a piece of hardware.

> On the FAQ page for the GPL, there is a link to a quiz to test your 
> understanding of the GPL, and one of the questions explicitly covers this:
> Joan writes a web browser and releases the source code under the GPL on her 
> web site. Fred gives a CD with binaries of Joan's browser to his friend for 
> her birthday. Which of the following does not satisfy Fred's obligation to 
> make source code available:
>    1. He can put the source code on his web site, and put the URL on the CD.
>    2. He can give out source on the same CD as the binaries.
>    3. He can make a written offer to give out the source code on CD for a fee 
> that covers his distribution costs.
> #1 does not satisfy his obligation.  Note that he has not modified the code, 
> he isn't linking to it, isn't running it, he just distributes it on a CD.
> This is the understanding of the people who wrote the license.

I understand, and agree with that, with respect to distributing software

But where the product is not software, where the product is in fact
hardware that just happens to have unmodified GPL'd software embedded
within it as a component, then I'm less convinced that this is the same
as the above example of re-distributing a browser that someone has

> I don't know if it's been tested in court, perhaps in some jurisdictions it 
> may not be honored.  But it is what the license is written to require.
> If the license isn't honored for legal reasons, there is a provision in the 
> license that in that case no license to copy is granted *at* *all*.  Failure 
> of a provision of the license does not cause the code to convert to the 
> Public Domain - it revokes all license to copy the code - as if the original 
> author/copyright holder did not release it in the first place.
> All up, the person (the author!) who licenses code under the GPL requires the 
> (commercial) distributor to provide the source on request, or the 
> (commercial) distributor has no license to copy the code at all, and 
> therefore may not distribute it in any form.

True, agreed.


David Murray

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