[gobolinux-users] Source repositories and other suggestions

Michael Homer gobo-users-dufus at wotfun.com
Sat Nov 25 03:03:53 UTC 2006

On 11/25/06, Andy Feldman <nereusren at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 11/24/06, Michael Homer <gobo-users-dufus at wotfun.com> wrote:
> > The problem is that
> > somebody who's already obtained the binaries by any means needs to be
> > able to obtain the source to them in perpetuity.
> I checked the GPL because I thought perpetuity sounded a bit
> extreme... 3 years is the actual requirement, which means your point
> is still completely valid: simply removing the binaries from the store
> is not sufficient. I stand corrected.
> Here's the relevant section:
> 3.  You may copy and distribute the Program (or a  work based on it,
> under Section 2) in object code or executable form [...] provided that
> you also do one of the following:
> [...]    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 [...]
My understanding of the "written offer" section is that it's to be
read alongside the "same origin" rule; that is, source has to be
available from the same place - if you obtain a CD by mail, or in
person, the offer is to mail the source. If you download it, it's to
be downloadable (see below).

> > On 11/25/06, Andy Feldman <nereusren at gmail.com> wrote:
> > > Which is why I suggested we have a backup server with source archives,
> > > which we can make available--*if* we want to continue using that
> > > binary package after original source disappears. More likely, I'm
> > > guessing we would simply stop shipping an unmaintained program.
> > Unless you can do it automatically, that isn't really going to cut it,
> > although it's probably good enough in practice.
> "Good enough in practice" is all I was going for, but you've convinced
> me that just cutting off binary distribution isn't even good enough
> for that. (That is, if I were the one taking responsibility for the
> potential copyright violation, I wouldn't be comfortable with it).
Yes. In a practical sense, it probably wouldn't be a problem, but I
wouldn't be comfortable with it either.

> I still think my suggestion of a source archive, to be manually and
> individually made available if there is a request for a Program's
> source, satisfies part B of the section I quoted above. The only other
> change once such an archive is established would be to "accompany [the
> binaries] with a written offer" on the CD and in each downloadable
> package.
I don't think that a repository "to be made available on request"
satisfies the licence; see the FAQ under "I want to make binaries
available for anonymous FTP, but send sources only to people who order
them": "If you want to distribute binaries by anonymous FTP, you have
to distribute sources along with them". (see

> Give it a read and see if you agree: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html#SEC3
I think this is accurate. I don't think that "our binaries are from
unmodified source" is good enough, not least because some of them
aren't (e.g., the kernel), and distributing diffs isn't sufficient.

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