GPL and server appliances

Stefano Maffulli maffulli at
Tue Jul 27 14:29:51 UTC 2004

On Tue, 2004-07-27 at 15:41, Samuel Liddicott wrote:
> I think you are mistaken. If I install software on my machine and then
> co-locate my machine I am hardly distributing the software.

If you rent your machine with software installed to a third party then
you are distributing not only the hw but also the software.  Therefore
the GNU GPL applies and must be obeyed.  This is the opionion of the
FSFs lawyers, US and Europe.

> I haven't seen Microsoft trying to charge extra when people move the
> PC that contains MS windows, or when I take my laptop into someone
> elses offices or plug it into someone elses network.

I don't know what Microsoft does.  Plus your example are not pertinent:
the question raised talked about renting, not borrowing a computer from
a friend.
> I'm going to say it again, that "distribution" needs clarification. 

apparently the lawyers have the concept quite clear already. 

> Can I suggest that FSF lawyers produce some sample scenarios by way of
> explanation. 

It would be a good thing, probably, but it would cost some precious (and
costly) time of our lawyers that we have to spend on something else now
(like this
).  Or you can learn yourself from law books what distribution means and
program the wizard accordingly.  Honestly, though, right now the FSFE
can't afford put this effort on a high priority. 

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