This means that anyone distributing GPL code is in violation of the GPL
Posted Mar 9, 2011 17:17 UTC (Wed) by southey
Parent article: Red Hat and the GPL
The preferred form argument sounds just plain silly as if you fail to provide the source code in all conceivable ways including different encodings (such as ansci vs unicode) then you must be in violation of the GPL V2 because someone needs something different (or just is being difficult like wanting a new tablet)!
You should be arguing that Red Hat is providing foremost an executable not source code because RHEL is not Gentoo or some other distro that requires you to build from source. So Red Hat is correctly meeting the part of GPL v2 section 3 is For an executable work, complete source code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the executable (my emphasis added). This says complete code not partial code so Red Hat is now fulfilling that requirement better than just distributing original source plus patches - especially if those patches lack complete instructions on modifying the original (such as dependencies).
If RHEL sources contain valid copyright statements involving Red Hat, then Red Hat must be complying with Section 2. Unfortunately the GPL V2 (or V3) only specifies date not the format or standard for representation. So just the year alone is marginally valid date, even if it really means all days in the complete year. Also you can argue that a specific day (a more common usage) is inappropriate for something that involves many days of work as it includes finding and testing final changes.
Also you forgetting one critical aspect in the Trading GPL rights for support part (which I tend to agree with): If Red Hat owns the copyrights of those changes (and it does contribute a lot to the kernel) then it can distribute those patches or code under whatever terms it likes! So for those parts that Red Hat, there is no GPL violation at all. Thus, Red Hat would be in violation of any changes that it does not own and, as you point out, any GPL rights are likely removed by the support agreement (as EULAs are apparently valid).
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