[sldev] GPL issues....

Gareth Nelson gareth at litesim.com
Mon Aug 18 13:42:07 PDT 2008

I will respond once more in public, then if Henri or anyone else
objects please take it private:

> 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 "complete corresponding source" is not available from LL, and it
is not available from your own site. LL host only the original source
code, and you host only the patches.

> 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 impose that either the source code or a written offer for
source code must be provided. You have neither on your site. In fact,
i'll ask now - may I have the source tree you used? If you deny this
request in public then shame on you.

> 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.

"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."

> 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.
Gentoo ebuilds provide no binaries, and RPM distros generally also
provide SRPMs. Even if they didn't do this, it wouldn't make a
difference to this situation as you are not those distros.

> 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 !
Funny enough, I tried your make-SL script and found it deleted some of
the viewer source i'd already downloaded. This isn't your fault of
course (I should have read it before executing it) but of course the
preferred option is to just provide the source tree. May I have 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.
Again, there's nothing wrong with providing patches for a GPLed work,
the problem is distributing the binary with patches alone, rather than
the actual source tree.

> 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.
Not mentioning the fact that your ISP quota is not a good enough
excuse, I presume you've heard of this site:

> 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.
Odd, how does one apply the patches in a nonstandard order without
getting rejects? But despite this, your legal obligation is to provide
source, even if you think your way is better.

> 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.

 * Copyright (c) 2003-2008, Linden Research, Inc.
 * Second Life Viewer Source Code
 * The source code in this file ("Source Code") is provided by Linden Lab
 * to you under the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2.0
 * ("GPL"), unless you have obtained a separate licensing agreement
 * ("Other License"), formally executed by you and Linden Lab.  Terms of
 * the GPL can be found in doc/GPL-license.txt in this distribution, or
 * online at http://secondlifegrid.net/programs/open_source/licensing/gplv2
 * There are special exceptions to the terms and conditions of the GPL as
 * it is applied to this Source Code. View the full text of the exception
 * in the file doc/FLOSS-exception.txt in this software distribution, or
 * online at http://secondlifegrid.net/programs/open_source/licensing/flossexception
 * By copying, modifying or distributing this software, you acknowledge
 * that you have read and understood your obligations described above,
 * and agree to abide by those obligations.
 * $/LicenseInfo$

"unless you have obtained a separate licensing agreement * ("Other
License"), formally executed by you and Linden Lab"

Unless you have another license, it's GPLed. If it wasn't GPLed and
you didn't have another license, you'd have no right to redistribute
or modify it at all. Claiming the viewer isn't GPLed when you surely
must have seen this header every time you modified a file is just
simply bizarre.

> 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...

I of course can't dispute this without pasting the logs, but suffice
to say I was not arrogant in the least and even re-assured you I was
trying to give friendly advice, it is you who was being arrogant.

> 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.

"everyone he could think about" - 2 lindens, the FSF and yourself.
Please explain how this is inappropriate in any way?

> 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.

Your own view of the situation was that the simple argument that "you
must provide source code if you distribute a GPLed work" is flawed.
That view of course is itself flawed for anyone with even the simplest
understanding of the GPL or software licensing in general.

> 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...

So, next time should I just post in public first and then in private?
I believe it's more decent to contact you in private first, and thus
did so with a fairly casual IM before you came up with your weird
excuses. If this list of course is the wrong place to discuss
licensing issues (as it appears it might be) then I apologise to all
reading, though the general idea of mentioning this in public
(alongside concerns about this general practice - you just happened to
be particularly arrogant in your statements to the effect of "the
viewer isn't GPLed" and similar) I believe was proper.

> 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
> thick).

No, i've not contacted you in private again as you're well aware, I
won't dignify the "thick" insult with a response.

> 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 !

Wow, what a fanatic I am: I actually think people should follow the
terms of the license. If you don't want to follow the terms, then
don't distribute the code. As for the whole "i'm sharing my work for
free so i'm immune from criticism" idea, total nonsense.

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