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Re: redistributing cygwin1.dll

On 12 May 2003, Patrick J. LoPresti wrote:

> I'm back.  Did you miss me?
> Christopher Faylor <> writes:
> > It is quite amazing how predictable the response is when people are
> > asked to comply with the GPL.  There must be some kind of
> > instinctual racial memory that is being tickled by the GPL, causing
> > everyone to respond in the same knee-jerk sophmoric manner.
> (I think you mean "sophomoric".  Yeah, I know, pointing out spelling
> errors is sophomoric.)
> There is a simpler explanation than instinctual racial memory, which
> is that most people naturally consider strict enforcement of the GPL
> to be very silly in cases like this.
> The typical exchange is roughly:
>   Q: The Cygwin sources are already widely available.  Isn't it silly
>   for me to distribute them?
>   A: The GPL requires it.
> But that does not answer the question!  Just because the GPL requires
> something does not necessarily make it less silly.
> Why do you want strict enforcement of the GPL in this case?  "Because
> it's the license" is not an answer.  The question is, why do YOU want
> to enforce it IN THIS CASE?
> I think this is a fair question, even for the maintainer.
> Put another way, what goal is achieved by making this person
> distribute the source?  Again, "compliance with the GPL" is not an
> answer...  What good does it achieve, or what evil does it prevent?
> It is true that, as maintainer, your opinion carries a lot of weight.
> And you are not required to answer anybody's demands.  But your
> opinion would carry even more weight if you could justify it with
> credible answers to these questions, rather than pulling out the
> bureaucratic non-answer "because the license says so".
>  - Pat


I assume you agree with the necessity of having the source for *the
particular binaries that you distribute* available - that's consistent
with the whole open-source philosophy, and I guess you're not disputing
that.  If so, here's a *good* reason to make people distributing
cygwin1.dll also make the sources available: if, for some reason, the site
containing the sources goes down, you, as the distributor of the binary
package, are out of luck.  You will have to provide the sources yourself.
Complying with the GPL is going to save you the trouble.  If you wish, you
can link to another site that has the sources, provided that when that
site goes down or changes, you'll be able to distribute the exact sources
that your binary was compiled from.  All of the above has been said
before, at least twice on my memory, but I thought it might be time to
remind people.  Again, IANAL (hmm, *are* there any lawyers on this list?),
so you're welcome to ignore me.

The enforcement of compliance with the GPL is, in most cases, to protect
the original authors of the software from having to keep old sources
around just because someone somewhere wants to keep distributing the old
binary, and from the headache that the complaints of those other people
would bring should the source for the old versions of the binaries
suddenly become not "widely available".
P.S. You have the right to an opinion that GPL is silly, but this list is
not the place to express it, and expressing it here will not result in any
real changes.  Same could be said about 99.9% of the GPL discussions here.
I'm sure the FSF maintains a list just for this purpose.
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    '---''(_/--'  `-'\_) fL	a.k.a JaguaR-R-R-r-r-r-.-.-.  Meow!

Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty.
  -- Leto II

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