Monsoon Multimedia responds on GPL
Posted Sep 26, 2007 3:27 UTC (Wed) by grouch
In reply to: Monsoon Multimedia responds on GPL
Parent article: Monsoon Multimedia gives in on GPL
Along the way, we have unwittingly neglected to honor the terms of the GPL which requires us to obtain permission from the copyright holders of any software component for which we have modified the code in order to deliver our product.
No, it doesn't. You still seem to be confused about the GPL.
The GPL already grants you permission, from the copyright holders, to modify and distribute the code under certain conditions. It is a unilateral, but conditional, grant of permission. The layman's summary of those conditions is that you have to pass on the same rights to the code as you received. You failed to do that. You received the source but you did not pass it on with your binaries. You imposed additional restrictions on the code beyond those under which you received it.
The only time you must seek permission from the copyright holders to modify and distribute code licensed under the GPL is when you wish to do something that is outside the scope of permissions granted by the GPL. In this case, you failed to distribute the source or an offer to obtain the source and you added an End User License Agreement which contradicts the GPL.
Please note that I am not a lawyer, am not one of the copyright holders, and have no standing in the complaint against Monsoon Multimedia. I make extensive use of software released under the GPL, have contributed minorly to some GPL'd projects, and have a very strong interest in free (libre) software. I am thus a part of the "free software community in general" to which you aim your apology, but I am completely unimpressed by that apology. Unless and until the BusyBox copyright holders announce they are satisfied, any apology is empty.
While the press of business concerns may lead to oversights, copyright infringement is no less grave simply because it is a business infringing copyright owned by individuals. The license chosen for the BusyBox developers' work is not nearly as complex as the legalistically obfuscated list of denials of rights that comprise the typical proprietary software company's EULA. Turn the tables around and imagine that apology being posted.
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