Fwd: Re: Free software, as in speech, without Makefile

Simon Hornbachner lfodh at fsfe.org
Fri Mar 20 16:40:16 UTC 2015

Ahoy hoy,

On 2015-03-20 15:50, Paul van der Vlis wrote:
>>> The source is available but the Makefile is missing. The developer says
>>> it's to make it a bit more difficult to build it yourself. Eventually
>>> for removing the registration.
>>> It's a complex Java program what depends on many third party components
>>> (all free), so maybe it's not so easy to make such a Makefile, no idea.
>>> What's your opinion?
>> It's up to developer whether to supply a Makefile with the source code
>> or not.
I'm pretty sure that this is not the case. Depending on which version of 
the AGPL has been used, the wording might be different, but AGPLv3
clearly states.
„The "Corresponding Source" for a work in object code form means all the 
source code needed to generate, install, and (for an executable work) 
run the object code and to modify the work, including scripts to control 
those activities.“
As far as I know, the intention of this paragraph was specifically to 
cover Makefiles and the like.
>> 1. If you, as a supporter, can get the Makefile from the main developer,
>> everyone else should be able to get it too.
> He would give me the Makefile, and some other interested developers. But
> I would not publish it when he does not want that. You will understand.
I'm pretty sure that not publishing the Makefile constitutes a violation 
of the AGPL. Depending on what you intend to do about it, you might want 
to get in touch with FSFE's legal team. If this single developer is the 
sole copyright owner, trying to enforce the publication of the Makefile 
might just result in him changing the license, so you might want to be 
careful about what you do.
Still, I believe not publishing a Makefile isn't just "bad practice" but 
a violation of the license.


More information about the Discussion mailing list