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[vox] What is GPL "Distribution"?
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[vox] What is GPL "Distribution"?



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This is a legalish question about the GPL...

  I don't expect to find an answer here but the risk that someone here will=
=20
know the answer is much better me finding useful discussion on google=20
(GPL+distribution hits about 360,000 documents).

  I'm looking for a good place to ask this, if it's in a FAQ, or
if some place already did a a discussion about this.


  The questions centers on the definition of "distribution"... a company is
free to modify a GPL'd program and not release the source provided that
they do not "distribute"... So modified versions of the program can=20
be used a company website or servers without releasing the code without=20
a them needing to release their changes, paid subscriptions to the
service could even be required to use.

- Now what if the machine that company hosts the website on is wholly
  owned by the co-location facility that hosts the machine (only being
  rented by the company which made changes)?
- What if the company develops all of their software with sub-contractors
  who do the work on their own personal machines at home?
- Is the transportation of the GPL'd code or binaries to those two places=
=20
  "distribution" as far as the GPL is concerned?

=2E..depending on how you look at it it is boarder line.


  While writing this I got the idea to check for "GPL FAQ"... which=20
came up with something useful.

  http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl-faq.html


  A block of items in the FAQ near to this seem to cover the question...

  http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl-faq.html#TOCUnreleasedMods
=3D=3D=3D=3D
A company is running a modified version of a GPL'ed program on a web
site. Does the GPL say they must release their modified sources?

    The GPL permits anyone to make a modified version and use it
    without ever distributing it to others. What this company is doing
    is a special case of that. Therefore, the company does not have to
    release the modified sources.

    It is essential for people to have the freedom to make
    modifications and use them privately, without ever publishing those
    modifications. However, putting the program on a server machine
    for the public to talk to is hardly "private" use, so it would be
    legitimate to require release of the source code in that special
    case. We are thinking about doing something like this in GPL version
    3, but we don't have precise wording in mind yet.

    In the mean time, you might want to use the Affero GPL for programs
    designed for network server use


Is making and using multiple copies within one organization or company
"distribution"?

    No, in that case the organization is just making the copies for
    itself. As a consequence, a company or other organization can
    develop a modified version and install that version through its
    own facilities, without giving the staff permission to release that
    modified version to outsiders.

    However, when the organization transfers copies to other organizations
    or individuals, that is distribution. In particular, providing copies
    to contractors for use off-site is distribution.
=3D=3D=3D


  There may still a little wiggle room for "distribution" to a rented
co-location machine... but doesn't seem like much.  Comments?

    TTFN,
      Mike

--=20
GPG key: http://simons-clan.com/~msimons/gpg/msimons.asc
Fingerprint: 524D A726 77CB 62C9 4D56  8109 E10C 249F B7FA ACBE

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