Subject: Re: Ransom (long) (was: Mandatory donations...)
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 21:44:08 -0700
Sun, 14 Oct 2001 21:44:08 -0700
on Mon, Oct 15, 2001 at 12:24:21AM -0400, Adam Theo ( wrote:
> Zimran Ahmed wrote:
> >>sorry, i must be very dense because I simply cannot understand why
> >>that ransom model is incompatible with the GPL.
> >>
> >>You have some GPL'd code. You make some additions. YOU DO NOT
> >>RELEASE THE CODE. you have done nothing to violate the GPL.
> >>
> Kevin A. Burton wrote:

> > Until someone says: "hey, can I get the source code to your
> > package?" and you say "no, not until the ransom is met".   Then you
> > have violated the GPL:
> Actually, I'm quite sure that Zimran is correct. A polite observation is
> that the GPL cannot enforce it's "viral" nature on code that has not
> been released yet. 

The distinction I think is being confused here is distribution of
program and distribution of source.  If modifications are private, and
the program isn't distributed (in binary or other form), then there's no
distribution obligation.  If you've distributed the program, you've
already triggered the GPL obligation, and would be in violation, were
you to assert your ransom demand.

The proposed licese by Theo could not be used, however, to distribute
software in advance of securing the ransom, if third-party GPLd code
were involved.

Of itself, ransomed coded is actually a practice in use.  I know several
people who've written mods to GPLd code, advertised same, and requested


Karsten M. Self <>
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