Subject: Re: Who holds the copyright?
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1999 16:58:33 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "DJ" == DJ Delorie <dj@delorie.com> writes:

    DJ> Is this true: "Just because one person got a copy of a GPL'd
    DJ> program (via 3b) doesn't mean that everyone in the world is
    DJ> *entitled* to a copy of the sources." ?

It is almost certainly not true.  3b states in plain English "any 3rd
party" has the right to receive the sources.  Your liability to
provide copies, if you choose to distribute under 3b, is unlimited.

    DJ> I hope it is, but 3b/3c seem to imply that the "written offer"
    DJ> is made to the public in general, and 3c doesn't seem to
    DJ> require a physical *copy* of the offer, just the knowledge
    DJ> that it exists.

Yes.  But a vendor can always avoid 3b/3c by providing source on the
original media.  You only have to do one of 3a, 3b, and 3c.  If you
always do 3a, you are never liable under 3c---your customers would be
if they opt for 3b, but they cannot impose 3c on you if you have
provided them with source with the binaries.

I think that the 3b language, which does _not_ specify the same medium
of distribution for binary and source, was intended to allow you to
satisfy all 3c liability by putting source up on the Web.  Surely
today the Web would be a "customary medium."

    DJ> What happens if a small company sells one copy of a GPL'd
    DJ> product under 3b, and millions of requests for the source come
    DJ> in the next day?

They stop distributing (and using, I suspect) the GPL'd product if
they don't intend to service the requests in a timely fashion.
Anybody who is worried about it should opt for 3a.

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

I think a court would see it as precisely that, intentional abuse.

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