[linux-audio-dev] [OT] Linux, audio and the breach of GPL [was:Lionstracs / Linux Audio at Musikmesse report]

Marek Peteraj marpet at naex.sk
Thu Apr 8 15:37:55 UTC 2004

On Wed, 2004-04-07 at 22:44, will at malefactor.org wrote:
> On Thu, Apr 08, 2004 at 04:08:34AM +0200, Marek Peteraj wrote:
> > On Wed, 2004-04-07 at 21:29, will at malefactor.org wrote:
> > > On Thu, Apr 08, 2004 at 01:57:32AM +0200, Marek Peteraj wrote:
> > > > 
> > > > > Companies using Linux in musical gear besides Lionstracs: Plugzilla (a 
> > > > > rack that can play VSTs), Muse Receptor (similar concept), Hartman 
> > > > > Neuron (a synth). Unfortunately the others are based on pretty
> > > > > closed design and most don't even tell you that's based on Linux. 
> > > > > Perhaps their attitude will change
> > > > > in future.
> > > > 
> > > > I just quickly checked their sites, and there's indeed absolutely no
> > > > mention of using Linux. If they're all indeed using Linux, then it's an
> > > > obvious breach of the GPL license.
> > > > 
> > > > Marek 
> > > > 
> > > > 
> > > 
> > > IIRC, they only have to provide the sources to people who buy the
> > > products. 
> > 
> > The GPL explicitly states:
> > 'to give _any_ third party ... a complete machine-readable copy of the
> > corresponding source code ...'
> > 
> That's one of three options that the GPL gives you in section 3.

Note that only 3 a) and 3 b) apply in our case.

>  It also
> says you can accompany "the Program (or a work based on it, under
> Section 2)  in object code or executable form" with the source. It seems
> to me like they could just put a CD with the source code in the box with
> their product and be compliant.

> Their websites sites aren't "verbatim copies of the Program's source code."

The keyword 'General Public' applies to each Section of the GPL , and
you have to interpret every statement made by the GPL with respect to
'general public'. The GPL also uses the term ‚any third party'.

For example, you may charge a fee for the physical act of transferring a
copy, in which case you'd normally restrict access to those who pay. In
that case you're obliged to put a general public notice that _any_ third
party, which intends to pay a fee, will do so  for the physical act of
transferring a copy of GPLed software, which is being distributed in
form of machine readable source-code or as an object or executable form.
In case of distributing an  object or executable form, you need  inform
that the corresponding source-code is included or include an offer.

You might ask, why? Because there's no way to find out if there's a GPL
violation happening when  the distributor denies access by charging
a fee, which would make such license obsolete. General public means that
the general public or any third party should know.

In Section 1, the GPL allows to charge a higher fee than the  cost of
physically performing source distribution, while not allowing to charge
more than  the  cost of physically performing source distribution in
section 3 b), which means that if you intend to charge for  the physical
act of transferring a copy of the Program (or a work based on it,
under Section 2) in object code or executable form, you're allowed to
charge more aswell, but in that case, if you don't provide the
source-code, you can't do additional charges and you have to make an
offer and provide it in case any third party is interested.

If you do not intend to charge a fee(which is the case of the previously
mentioned companies), then 'general public' applies again, no matter
whether it's a machine readable source-code, object or executable,
meaning that you can't restrict access to your customers and you have to
comply with the GPL. Or if you do restrict the access, a general public
notice should apply, but that's questionable. If not, it's perfectly
fine to ship the source-code while entirely compying with Section 1 (,2)
of the GPL license or to ship the object/executable while entirely
complying with Sections 1,2,3. But that applies to both a CD shipped
with a product or a website download.


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