GPL and dsitribution of source code

Tomasz Wegrzanowski taw at
Tue May 28 00:20:57 UTC 2002

On Tue, May 28, 2002 at 01:57:04AM +0200, Jan Wildeboer wrote:
> Tomasz Wegrzanowski wrote:
> >Yes. Everyone who got sources may distribute them.
> OK. Thanks.
> >Yes.
> >
> >But remember that you didn't program it. Part that you want was
> >programmed by them. Part that you programmed you already have anyway.
> The problem is that this company has offered us to give us the sources 
> when they think they are stable. On the other hand they are already 
> 'selling' it to anyone they can get hold of. We have asked them that 
> when they are distributing already why they still consider the sources 
> to be not fit enough to show them to us. They have answered that they 
> are not willing to discuss GPL-stuff with us anymore :-( And they 
> claimed that I am not allowed to tell that to anyone because they have a 
>  disclaimer in all their eMail that prohibits us to disclose any 
> communication with them.

"Disclaimer in email" doesn't have much legal meaning.
If you didn't sign anything, I doubt any court would take their side.

> They also told us that all of their customers 
> had to sign an NDA that will make sure that we will never be able to use 
> their sources.

This is illegal under GPL's "no additional restrictions" clause.
As original copyright owner you can sue them now.
But consult some local lawyer if you want to.

Unfortunatelly the law isn't clear what to do if part of a deal is
unenforcable. There are two possibilities:
* just unenforcable part (NDA) will be canceled, and the rest (GPL)
  should still apply.
* whole transaction, as illegal, will be canceled, all money and cds
  transfered back and all licencee's right canceled.

You should consult some local lawyer because this varies from country
to country and from case to case which scenario applies.

> Something I am not willing to accept. I have already 
> received their sources from an Anonymous Customer with the suggestion to 
> publish them as contribution. But as the company has threatened me with 
> legal consequences I am a bit scared to do this, though the GPL woould 
> allow me to do this.
> A complex situation. I have not seen the NDA and I will not aks for it 
> as that could cause severe problems for Anonymous. If that is what the 
> GPL allows I am not sure if it is the right license for our project.

GPL doesn't allow such NDAs. You are allowed to sue them for copyright

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