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Two GPL clarifications
- From: Christopher Faylor <cgf-rcm at cygwin dot com>
- To: cygwin at cygwin dot com
- Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 14:33:43 -0500
- Subject: Two GPL clarifications
- Reply-to: cygwin at cygwin dot com
I've talked to Red Hat's lawyers.
1) The interpretation that just providing a link to the sources is
adequate is incorrect so we are correct in advising people that they
need to provide sources for the binaries that they provide.
This is so much of a "well, duh" that I felt embarrassed asking the
question, especially when the answer is clearly laid out in the GPL
2) We should be trying to get people to adhere to the GPL whenever
we are aware of a violation, if for no other reason than that we
need to establish the precedent of enforcing our license.
Again, a "well duh", but I thought it might help put some of this
discussion to rest.
The lawyer also went as far as to say that it doesn't take a lawyer to
read a legal document and understand what it says. However, when you
think about it, you really can't trust a lawyer's interpretation of a
contract any more than you can mine. If lawyers were infallible then we
wouldn't need judges and juries. So, you can continue the argument of
"You don't know what you're talking about" all the way through the legal
process until a verdict is rendered. Even then, there's no guaranteeing
that the judge knows what *he's* talking about so we might need to
My point is that if people aren't allowed to argue common sense
interpretations and if we can't point to things like the FSF's GPL FAQ
as an authority then we might as well not be discussing anything at all.
For this mailing list, the interpretation of the GPL which we've been
using for the last six years (since I've been following things) is the
one that we will continue to use. I appreciate the efforts of people
here who help to ensure that the GPL is enforced when they stumble over
We should try to be non-confrontational when we bring issues to the
attention of the well-meaning people who think they are open source
advocates if they provide our binaries on their site. However, we
still need to be insistent when it comes to helping them understand
the facts of GPL life.
For the record, I will block access here to anyone who advocates
ignoring the GPL, anyone who stubbornly refuses to adhere to our GPL
requirements, or anyone who rabidly insists that the FSF's
interpretation of the GPL is incorrect. At the most such activities
are counter to the goals of this project and at the least they're
An occasional thoughtful discussion on aspects of the GPL which are
unclear would be slightly off topic here but I'm not going to slap
anyone for raising such things. I like intellectual discussions about
this kind of thing as long as people don't get too heated (is that
possible with the GPL?) or too tedious. Be prepared for me to cc RMS in
any discussions, though. However, if things to get out of hand, I'm
perfectly willing to play the "off topic" card here since, clearly, this
isn't the mailing list where important issues about the GPL will be
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