ILIAS mix of GNU GPL with own terms

Alex Hudson home at
Sun May 27 21:29:49 UTC 2001

On Sun, May 27, 2001 at 09:07:23PM +0200, Lutz Horn wrote:
> today I stumbled across a software project called ILIAS, available from

To quote "Source>Licence" on this site:

"ILIAS is distributed under the General Public License (GPL). This license
originates from the Anglo-Saxon system of law and is not fully applicable to
the German system of law."

That's not true, surely? Is their understanding of history so poor they
don't realise where the Saxons/Angles came from, or do they judge that too
long ago ? :)

By my understanding, the AGB is supposed to clarify the GPL in terms of
German law - by what they say, it's not supposed to radically change the
meaning. It also seems to state at the top it has no legal validity :?

> 1. Under '2. Vertragsgegenstand' there is a bold paragraph which goes
>    like this (in German):

Vertragsgegenstand == contract?

>    "If the licensee modifies the software and makes this modification
>    available to third parties, he is obligated to make available a copy
>    of the modification to the licenser at no cost, or, if if the
>    modification is available publicly and at no cost, to inform the
>    licenser about the source."

Make your changes available to us free of charge. GPL states that any GPL
program you modify must be licenced at _no_ charge, i.e., for free. I think
they are trying to extend this beyond the licence, which is anti-GPL.

>    Now am I right in thinking that the addition of the AGBs to the GNU
>    GPL as quoted above makes the sum of GNU GPL and AGBs a non free
>    software license?

The addition of the AGB in and of itself doesn't, and I don't think it is
intended that it does. I think :) 

>    I don't see any license problem with this sentence but wonder, what
>    it's purpose may be.

If the licencee redistributes, _they_ provide all source? That's the only
explanation I can think of - they don't want to bear the cost of lots of
people downloading from their site?

>    So why this sentence? What if I download the software and immediatly
>    put it on my own web site for download without the need for
>    registration?

I think that's okay.

>    "not use the software for himself or under order of third parties for
>    the purpose of searching for violation of third party rights",

I think they're trying to cover their ass - "if you search for patent
violations in our software, tough, that's illegal and you can't sue us".
Since it isn't copying, modification or distribution, I doubt it contradicts
the GPL.

>    As stated above under 1. I think these additional conditions make the
>    software non free software.

I think it probably contradicts Freedom 1 (no patent searching :), possibly Freedom 3 (you're not
free to redistribute modifications, you do have one obligation to the
licensor). The first freedom restriction I could probably live with, the
second probably not, but anyhow, it probably isn't free software.

I don't know if it contradicts the GPL. My gut feeling is it doesn't, but it
is probably a grey area. I can see why they've done it though - they seem to
be basically making the software available for as little cost to them (both
financially, and the possbility of law suits etc.) as legally possible, as
Universities tend to do. I think the strongest contradiction is with GPL
Section 6, but whether or not they are restricting redistribution of
modifications, I'm not sure :)

Interesting though!



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