[sldev] GPL issues....

Henri Beauchamp sldev at free.fr
Mon Aug 18 13:14:50 PDT 2008

On Sun, 17 Aug 2008 15:32:16 -0400, Teravus Ovares wrote:

> We've hit the 5 responses in 24 hours guideline from
> http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/SLDev .
> In addition, from the start this discussion was against the "If the topic is
> not specifically a Second Life development-related topic (e.g. mailing list
> policy or a licensing discussion), it should be redirected to the wiki, the
> bug tracker, or the appropriate forum immediately." guideline from the
> start.
> Any chance that we can take this to a more appropriate forum?  Linden Labs
> has a licensing e-mail specifically to deal with licensing issues.
> licensing at lindenlab.com
> Best Regards
> Teravus

Sorry to add to the noise in this list, but seeing as I'm the one being
under attack... I will use my "droit de réponse" in this unique message.

For a start... There is no issue at all !

The Cool SL Viewer and all the alternate viewers I so far saw
published are not violating the GPL License in any way.

To speak about my own website, where the Cool SL Viewer is hosted,
all the sources necessary to build the binaries are available on my
website or on websites linked to from my website.

The GPL never imposed on anyone that both the sources and the binaries
would have to be stored on the very same webserver or on webservers
ran/administrated/owned by the same person. The spirit of the GPL is
that you must always be able to rebuild the exact same binary as the
provided one with the sources made available via the same medium (and
here, the medium is Internet via the HTTP protocol). Would I be
distributing the viewer on a CD-ROM, then yes, I would have to provide
the source tarball as well as the pacthes on it.

The GPL does not impose either that you provide the sources in one form
or another (you could even provide them on printed paper if you so
wish !), so the fact that the sources necessary to rebuild the alternate
viewer are provided as a reference sources tarball (provided via a link
to the sources archive page of the SL Wiki) and a number of patches to
apply to the reference sources is perfectly legit.

Should not it be legit, then *ALL* the makers of Linux distributions
(including the GPL only ones such as Debian) would be violating the GPL.
Why ?...
Because when you look into a RPM or DEB sources packages (for example,
but the same is true with Gentoo "ebuilds" and other package management
systems), you will find a reference sources tarball (the sources as
provided by the "upstream", i.e. the author/originator of the software),
and a collection of patches (CVE and bug fixes, vendor specific patches,
etc) which are applied when the binary is built.

So, the fact I do not provide a tarball with the patched sources is in
*NO WAY* a violation of the GPL. I'm even providing the "make-SL" script
to help people building the viewer with just one command. All they have
to do is to download the reference sources and the patches, everything
being accessible/linked to on my website, put everything into a single
folder, and run "make-SL" in it !
That's no different than downloading a RPM source package, unpacking it
(then you find yourself with the original/reference sources tarball and
various patches in the /usr/src/rpm/SOURCES directory) and typing the
"rpm -bb" command to build the binary (at which point, the reference
sources are untared, the patches applied, and the "make" command finally
launched to compile the patched sources.

I will add to this fact that:

1.- Even if I wanted, I could not provide such sources. My ISP only grants
    me 100Mb of data space for all my websites (and the Cool SL Viewer's
    is not the only one !), so my quota would not be enough to hold the
    2 to 4 binaries together with the 2 to 4 patched sources tarballs.

2.- The patches may be applied to a number of versions and branches of
    the viewer, and this is one of the interests of patches, together with
    the possibility for someone building themselves the viewer, to decide
    that one or several patches should not be applied (for example if they
    suspect a patch could be the reason for a bug, or if a given patch
    does not apply cleanly (without rejects) to a different version or
    branch than the one I used to build the binary).
    It is therefore MUCH better to provide individual patches rather than
    a patched source tree/tarball.

3.- The only reference I make to the GPL on my website relates to my own
    patches (i.e. I release them under the GPL). The licensing of the
    SL Viewer itself is not even pure GPL (basically, LL reserves itself
    the right to branch the GPL viewer and make it a closed source,
    non-GPL branch). The official viewer licensing is *NOT* my business
    and it is only one more reason for me to avoid hosting its sources.

Now, about Mr Gareth Nelson's behaviour and how "arrogant" I am...

He started IMing me in world, not even saying "hello" before right
out, in a very iron learned tone (and actually quite arrogant !)
saying that I was violating the GPL...
After trying to explain him this was not the case and that he got
mislead, and seeing how it would not lead anywhere, I demanded that he
stopped IMing me, telling him the conversation was over. He did... but
only to fill out a GPL violation form and send it via email to everyone
he could think about.
After a few more emails, where he kept trying to rise futile arguments
which I dismantled one after the other, I finally got fed up and
added him to my spam filter.
Seeing how his emails were not going to buy anything from me, he then
posted to this list, while it's not even the right place to discuss
about such topics...
Would I be only a little paranoid, I'd say that this person is
trying to harass me ("why", is the only thing I could not find
an answer for, and the only reason why I think he is just being

Well, Mr Gareth Nelson, be sure that if you find me "arrogant",
I think, on my side, that you are just one of those fanatics that
only deserve being ignored. If you don't like the way I am sharing
my work, *for free* with the open source community... well, go
dance !


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