Subject: Re: Who holds the copyright?
From: DJ Delorie <>
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 1999 15:52:22 -0500

Bruce Perens writes:
> If they are distributing the source with the binary,

As far as I know, Cygnus always does.  Two reasons I can think of are
that (1) it's cheaper and easier in the long run, and (2) it's easier
to support customers when they have sources.

> all one needs to do is find a single customer of this software and
> ask them to post the source.

Cheap!  If you care so much about this issue, buy a copy yourself and
put it up for FTP.  Expecting something for nothing ("find a
customer") is, IMHO, ruining (by masking) the original philosophy of
the GNU project.

> If they are _not_ distributing the source with the binary, anyone
> has the right to _ask_ them for the source and get it.

Is this true: "Just because one person got a copy of a GPL'd program
(via 3b) doesn't mean that everyone in the world is *entitled* to a
copy of the sources." ?  I hope it is, but 3b/3c seem to imply that
the "written offer" is made to the public in general, and 3c doesn't
seem to require a physical *copy* of the offer, just the knowledge
that it exists.  How can a third party prove that the original
offer-maker made the offer, without a suitably legally binding
document or copy thereof?  What happens if a small company sells one
copy of a GPL'd product under 3b, and millions of requests for the
source come in the next day?

IMHO, the original intent of the GPL was to allow *giving* software to
people, not *getting* software from people.  It would be sad if people
intentionally abused the GPL by requesting all the software they can
from companies just to annoy them.