[linux-elitists] What would be the proper course of action for a possible GPL violation?

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Thu May 15 10:12:31 PDT 2008

Quoting Phil Mayers (p.mayers@imperial.ac.uk):

> Sorry, precision problem on my part; I am referring to the bit of the 
> GPLv2 that says:
> The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for 
> making modifications to it. 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
> ...so, not the toolchain, but the build scripts and stuff used to 
> package the resultant software into a form installable on a device.

That matters if the binary in question _is_ in fact compiled from GPL
source or derivative of a GPL-licensed codebase (but not if it isn't).
Essentially, that clause says that redistributors and distributors of
derivative works cannot provide the preferred form itself but render
that instance nearly useless by omitting intimately related files
necessary to build it.

> In particular, what if the device takes a self-un-gzipping signed binary 
> of the linux kernel? Are not the scripts used to compile *and control 
> installation* i.e. pack and sign the binary, covered under GPL?

I would imagine so, though nothing requires the publisher to ensure that
you have the ability to make the compiled binary work on any particular,
specific hardware.  (This, you may recall, was the point of contention
about TiVo Series 2 and later.)

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