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Red Hat and the GPL

Red Hat and the GPL

Posted Mar 9, 2011 0:33 UTC (Wed) by pranith (subscriber, #53092)
Parent article: Red Hat and the GPL

Ok, I am a bit confused here. What happens in the following case:

I buy a redhat subscription which implictly means that I agree to their service terms not to distribute the patches.

Now if I violate that service agreement by distributing the patches, all redhat can do is stop my service
which will not enable me to get any more future updates for that subscription.

What if I buy a new subscription? Will I get the new patches?

I can't see how they can keep a determined competitor from getting what they want.

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Red Hat and the GPL

Posted Mar 9, 2011 0:49 UTC (Wed) by mbanck (subscriber, #9035) [Link]

Assuming that Red Hat would not want you to sign up again after your violation of their service terms, you'd have to fake your identity. While this is probably not a big deal for individuals, it might be practically impossible for companies, at least those sorts of companies which do not get re-founded under a different name every couple of weeks.

If a competitor does this, they might even consider suing for trade secret espionage, cf. Oracle vs. SAP for something apparently slightly similar.

Red Hat and the GPL

Posted Mar 9, 2011 14:26 UTC (Wed) by vonbrand (guest, #4458) [Link]

OK, let's take a look at this whole mess from the "intent of GPL" angle (I'm no lawyer, and won't play one here either). Directly from the free software definition by the FSF, which presumably is authoritative on what GPL means:

  • Freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0)
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

What Red Hat is doing is giving you those four freedoms with respect to the kernel they ship, and then some. The whole flamefest is around if freedom 1 includes the right to be told why some part of the program is written (or was modified) the way it is. But the four freedoms are completely silent about this matter, the "learning" part is a job of whoever gets the program. Note that the "availability of source code" is considered a precondition for being able to study and modify the current version, nothing else.

Red Hat and the GPL

Posted Mar 9, 2011 22:13 UTC (Wed) by jrn (subscriber, #64214) [Link]

That's true. I have never heard of anyone claiming that providing a proprietary manual along with code licensed under the GPL violated the GPL. So what you say makes sense.

On the other hand, I have heard people claim that distributing (modified) code licensed under the GPL with comments stripped out is a violation. So we are in murky waters.

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