[clug] Fwd: [LINK] Software Freedom Law Center files first US GPL infringement suit

Michael Cohen scudette at gmail.com
Mon Sep 24 10:45:46 GMT 2007

On Mon, Sep 24, 2007 at 08:20:48PM +1000, James Polley wrote:
> True - it is no different.

Would you suggest then that all linux software must be releasable under
the GPL? e.g. skype, google earth, vmware and the list goes on? These
are all applications running on a linux distribution, just like the
defendants software was using busybox to build their own distribution.

> > Busybox will have to prove that the defendant actually
> > extended busybox itself,
> False. The GPL provisions trigger on distribution of software covered
> by the GPL, not on modification or extension of the software.

Yes - but the software in this case is busybox. The vendors might be
using busybox just like debian is using bash. They may just release the
source for busybox and are not forced to release the source for their
application which is different - and not related or derived from

> cf http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/gpl-2.0-faq.html#UnchangedJustBinary
> cf also http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/gpl-2.0.html. The
> preamble states:
> For example, if you distribute copies of such a program, whether
> gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that
> you have. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the
> source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their
> rights.
> Section 3 is the relevant bit, but I won't quote it here.
> > and even then only those modifications are
> > releasable under gpl.
> I have no idea what you're trying to say here. If the original code
> was under the GPL, and the modifications are also under the GPL,
> surely that means the whole lot is under the GPL?

What I was saying here is that even if busybox was modified for the new
firmware. Only these modifications need be released. If the firmware
contains completely original code it does not need to be released at

> I think you might be trying to say that "Even if they've modified the
> original source, the GPL only requires them to distribute source for
> the modifications". That's false in several ways, see above.

No thats not what I meant. They need to distribute source for all
projects which are shipped (in full), because that falls under gpl. But
if there are original programs which are not gpl they do not need to be
distributed. It is not immediately obvious that if they ship some gpled
programs and some proprietary code that the whole thing is gpled.


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