juridical Question on software and GPL

Paolo Gianrossi 1999s079 at educ.disi.unige.it
Sun Mar 28 14:38:17 UTC 2004

On Sat, 27 Mar 2004 14:19:07 +0100
list at akfoerster.de wrote:

> Am Samstag, dem 27. Mär 2004 schrieb Paolo Gianrossi:
> > On Fri, 26 Mar 2004 21:32:29 +0100
> > Moritz Sinn <moritz at freesources.org> wrote:
> > 
> > > "Axel Schulz" <axel at schulz.ph> writes:
> > > 
> > > > Hello at all!
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > I do think that this software does not violate the GPL. And: The "distributer" on http://www.bemme.de seems to be the original author of the software. So, he can do what ever he wants to do with his software, right? Even selling it. ;-)
> > > 
> > > well, yes. but if he puts it under gpl he has to follow what gpl says.
> > 
> > 
> > mmh. afaik no: basically you can do whatever you like if you're the author: imagine the following scenario: 
> > 
> > A writes a program P and puts it under the GPL. Then he distributes binary only and doesn't answer to requests of source code. At this point user U wants to do something. But the only person who can legally take action on a copyright/licensing issue is the author (A in our case)... So the only thing U could do is to contact A asking him to sue himself :)
> > 
> > Am i getting this wrong somewhere? 
> Yes. 
> In your scenario the program was never really released under the GPL:
> If it's not source, it's no software.
> When the author sais, that it is released under the GPL, he's simply 
> lying.
> But if a program source was released under the GPL, this can never be 
> taken back anymore. The author may decide to release new versions in 
> binary form only, but he cannot take back the rights for the GPL'ed 
> version.

What I meant is that just saying :

"This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or 
modify  under the terms of the GNU General Public License as 
published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2, or (at 
your option) any later version."

in a program doesn't imply that the program comes with sources, or
that the author must comply with the GPL as the OP said.

Of course he is lying, and there would be no advantage for anyone if
he did something like this, but still I think that many confuse the
way licenses work: just saying it's GPL (or whatever else) doesn't
imply you *have* to follow the GPL (or whatever else).

Of course, once sources are out, anyone can legally do what the GPL
says he can do...  

BTW I was considering if this "false gpl" thing could be used to cheat
on the concept of "derivative work", but obviously no, as section 3



 Paolo Gianrossi            | Those of you who think you know
 The GNU at DISI Project       | everything are annoying those 
 University of Genova       | of us who do. 
  paolino.gnu at disi.unige.it - http://paolino.yersinia.org

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