Subject: Re: GPL and FTP
From: "Joel N. Weber II" <devnull@gnu.org>
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 1997 06:01:08 -0500 (EST)

   A brief aside.  As recently as a few years ago, when I asked RMS
   whether it was OK under the GPL to ship binaries of a product, tell
   recipients where they could FTP the source, and put the source code up
   for FTP for at least three years, he said no.  An FTP site was not as
   good as an offer to give any third party free a copy of the source.

Strictly speaking, I don't think it has to be a free copy.  You can
charge what it costs to make a copy.

I think Stallman actually would like to make some sort of change along
those lines, but has to convince the Board of Directors of the Free
Software Foundation before that change can be made.

(We should find it reassuring that one person does not have the power
to remove the restrictions of the GPL.  There is a potentially large
loophole in that the FSF can decide at any time to change the licensing
terms of every program ever written that specifies version 2 or later
of the GPL.)

   I think that Brian, in particular, would prefer FTP access to a
   situation where each binary recipient also gets source, but the public
   doesn't.

I imagine if the GPL is changed, there will be a fourth prong added.
So that won't solve the percieved problem that Cygnus does not provide
its sources to everyone inexpensively.

I myself think that Cygnus's decision to make proprietary software is
much more of a problem than Cygnus's not making sources available to
everyone.  As far as I can tell, the GPL'd source that Cygnus works on
gets released by the FSF eventually, when the FSF has a relatively stable
and bugless version.  There's proabably some kludgy code that Cygnus
releases that FSF never releases, but that's because the people who maintain
gcc sometimes reject poorly-written code.