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Re: The more I read the confuser I get.-the answer

On Fri, 31 Oct 2003, Emmanuel Seyman wrote:

>> IMHO stopping to provide SRPMS wouldn't be in RedHat's interests in
>> the first place. 
>I have trouble seeing why.

The software in the distribution is under a number of individual
different licenses.  Red Hat, like anyone else must comply with 
those software licenses.

A lot of the software makes no requirements that source code
*MUST* be available.  Examples of software which there is no
legal requirement that source code must be provided are:  
XFree86, BSD licensed code, MIT licensed code, similar other
licenses.  That said however, there is no benefit to Red Hat
whatsoever in not distributing the source code to those software
components even though there is no legal requirement to do so.  
Quite the opposite - Red Hat has nothing to lose, and everything
to gain by making the source code available, as this promotes
others to use the code, modify it, fix bugs, and contribute back
stuff to Red Hat, and more importantly to the open source
community at large.

Other software in the distribution is under the GPL or LGPL 
licenses or some other license which explicitly requires that 
if you distribute binaries to someone, you must also make 
the source code be made available to them which was used to 
create those binaries also.  The terms of those licenses vary 
depending on the license, however source code must be made 
available to whomever the binaries are made availble to, in an 
acceptable manner which is legally compatible with the terms of 
the license.

IANAL, however from a purely legal standpoint, to my knowledge
Red Hat has no obligation to provide any src.rpms for RHEL on the 
ftp site or website, as Red Hat is only obligated to provide 
source code to RHEL to those whom are provided the binaries for 
RHEL.  RHEL comes with the source code included, so those people 
already have it and Red Hat's obligations under any of the 
licenses of the software are met by including the source code on 
CDROM with the product.  The source code for erratum updates 
could be provided via RHN to RHEL customers only, or via CDROM as 
well, and meet any GPL/LGPL or similar requirements of providing 
the source code.

However, even though Red Hat has no legal obligation to provide
the RHEL src.rpm packages to the public at large, they are 
nonetheless there, and hopefully people out there benefit from 
them wether they are an RHEL customer or if they're anyone else.  

There is no real benefit in my opinion to Red Hat holding back
the source code rpm packages to everything.  I'm kindof confused
as to why people would think otherwise personally, as not 
providing source code to people would more likely do more harm 
than any good.  Both in terms of less people being able to access 
the sources and potentially fix things or use the code to improve 
other software, learn, advocate Linux/whatever, etc.  and also in 
terms of negative publicity, public beatings, the slashdot 
effect, etc.

I definitely agree with the statement "stopping to provide SRPMS 
wouldn't be in RedHat's interests in the first place."

So.... conspiracy theorists please seek therapy or something...  

We're on your side.  ;o)  Source code good.  Fire bad!  ;o)

Mike A. Harris     ftp://people.redhat.com/mharris
OS Systems Engineer - XFree86 maintainer - Red Hat

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