my distribution scheme for GPLed software

Alex Hudson home at
Tue Mar 4 13:28:29 UTC 2003

On Tue, Mar 04, 2003 at 01:00:04PM +0000, Ciaran O'Riordan wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 04, 2003 at 12:43:48PM +0000, Alex Hudson wrote:
> > On Tue, Mar 04, 2003 at 12:18:02PM +0000, Ciaran O'Riordan wrote:
> > > I don't see any GPL violations
> > 
> > Surely the restriction on naming is a "violation"?
> Nope.  Copyright, patent, and tradmarks are all separate issues.
> Grouping them together (and calling them "Intelectual Property issues")
> will lead anyone to incorrect conclusions.

Sorry, I think you've really missed my point. I didn't conflate the naming
issue into "intellectual property" - I don't know where you got that from.

What I am talking about is specifically this: the software is under the
GPL, but if you download it you are not allowed to redistribute it under
a certain name. I think this contradicts GPL.6:

"You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of
the rights granted herein."

It sounds to me like a further restriction - that is the point I was making.

> > The GPL probably ought to address it though [...] A trademark can be
> > used to make a piece of software effectively non-free: if a trademark
> > prevents you copying a piece of software [...]
> This is what happens when one lumps together separate issues.

So how is what I said different from:

(...) wish to avoid the danger that redistributors of a free program will
individually obtain patent licenses, in effect making the program
proprietary. To prevent this, we have made it clear that any patent must be
licensed for everyone's free use or not licensed at all."

This isn't "lumping together separate issues". This is addressing issues
which can cause GPL'd software to be effectively non-free. I personally
think trademarks can also be used to restrict the freedom of the user of
GPL'd software, feel free to disagree. This isn't "IP" conflation.

> Trademarks
> can never prevent you from copying a piece of software.

RedHat disagree with you:

> Trademark laws ban people from using names
> and logos of other people/corporation to identify there work.

But if the trademark is used within a piece of software, then that software
has to be redistributed according to the wishes of the owner of the 
trademark until it is removed (if removal is possible). 

"You may not name or brand your product "Red Hat," or use the Red Hat
trademarks in any way, either on your product or in related advertising."

So if you copy a version of RedHat for a friend, you're not allowed to write
"RedHat" on it anywhere. Linux Emporium and CheepLinux in the UK think this
is a problem - CheepLinux rebrand all the RedHat they sell as "Cheeplinux
GPL", Linux Emporium don't even seem to stock it at all now. That prevents
people copying free software.

> I'd mostly agree with your solution (people register for support and
> email update services etc.).
> I don't see a benefit in coupling support with permission to download
> official source, most people get their software from distos anyway.
> This is even more true of companies (the market one should really aim
> for if you want to make a living off Free software).

I definitely agree with that sentiment, I'm not sure how successful it would
be. But, I suppose we'll see!



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