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Re: Sharing the GPL source code, with value addition by vendor specific


From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Sharing the GPL source code, with value addition by vendor specific to his hardware?
Date: Wed, 08 Dec 2010 16:03:31 -0000
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.0.50 (gnu/linux)

"Saliya" <address@hidden> writes:

> I write this email to get an answer for the question “Can the vendor
> charge for the GPL source code, for his value addition to the source
> code?”

He can charge for the software in toto.  Whatever he wants.  If he uses
sources from a _third_ party licensed to him under the GPL (he can
bargain for different licenses with his software source), the price for
the binaries has to include access to the corresponding source code,
licensed at no extra cost under the version of GPL he received the
source under (or a later version if he received the option to license at
a later version).

> In one such case, there is a vendor, who has done value addition to
> the GPL source code to make the GPL code work on his hardware
> platform. He claims to have invested huge effort to make the GPL
> source code to work on his platform. So he wants to charge for the
> source code separately.

Separately from what?

> According to the GPL policy, is any vendor allowed to charge for the
> source code for his device specific value addition? Or is he required
> to keep his value addition as open source?

He is not required to do anything as long as he does not distribute
binaries (binaries installed in a sold device count as distribution), or
if he has the copyright to the source he offers separately, or an
agreement different from the GPL.

If that is not the case, the copyright holder may tell him to stop
distributing the binaries created from the respective source code.  As a
downstream recipient/customer, you can't do more than notify him and the
copyright holder of the situation.  If the copyright holder can't be
bothered enforcing his copyright, there is nothing you can really do.

In some states, you might as some sort of last-measure resort make a
complaint about misleading advertising ("GPLed" software without rights
to the source code?).  But the chances for that to fly are not really
impressive, and he'll likely find a way around that particular complaint
without changing his business model.

-- 
David Kastrup


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