GPL and server appliances

Sam Liddicott sam at
Tue Jul 27 06:57:33 UTC 2004

It all depends if what A does counts as "distribution".
I think it doesn't.

The GPL is designed to prevenmt the situation where a person can have 
the software but not the source, not to cause all enhancements to be 
made public. It reaches its aim by causing the source to public 
enhancments to also be made public.

"be made public" is my rendering of "distribute" in the license.

I've said before that I think meaning of "distribute" in terms of the 
license needs clarifying.


Jerome Alet wrote:

>Hi there,
>one idea came to my mind (not exactly from nowhere, but this doesn't 
>matter for now) 
>say you write some piece of software and publish it under the GNU
>GPL license.
>say some company (A) enhances your software, install the new 
>combined product on a server appliance, and put the server appliance 
>at a third party company (B, its client), but DOESN'T SELL the 
>server appliance to B. Instead of selling it, A is still the full 
>owner of server appliance, which is installed at B's location only 
>as part of a support contract. 
>A DOESN'T WANT TO deliver full source code of the combined product 
>to B under the terms of the GNU GPL. 
>Question : does company A violate the GPL or not by not distributing 
>full source code under the terms of the GPL to B ?
>(Of course I understand that A is not required to distribute full 
>source code to the general public or even to you as principal author 
>of the original software) 
>Thanks in advance for any clarification
>Jerome Alet
>Discussion mailing list
>Discussion at

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