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Old 08-03-2005, 02:06 AM   #1
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Angry Is this a violation of the GPL?

I have received a pressed CD from a certain unmentionable company, which contains a whole bunch of .deb files which have been encrypted. The resultant programs contained in these files can only be extracted by a proprietary program after paying a fee, and joining a service.

Bearing in mind that the .deb files contain binaries based on GPL'd work, and the method of encryption is not public knowledge, is this a violation of the GPL?

Can a company deliver GPL'd work in a proprietary format?
Old 08-03-2005, 02:29 AM   #2
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I'm not sure. Distributing like that is a bit like not distribting at all; in this respect, I don't know how things stand.

However, I'm sure of this: Making customers pay for getting the product is allowed. But as soon as you pay, you get the software binaries, hence the binary is distributed to you. Hence they have to make the source code available to you if you ask, and you have all rights granted by the GPL on this source code.

Old 08-03-2005, 02:46 AM   #3
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I doubt it's a violation. The GPL intends to make software free as in free speech, not free beer.
Old 08-03-2005, 02:53 AM   #4
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Originally posted by theYinYeti
I'm not sure. Distributing like that is a bit like not distribting at all; in this respect, I don't know how things stand.
Thanks for the reply. You make a good point.
Old 08-03-2005, 03:58 AM   #5
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If the CD was free, it would make a nice coaster, I suppose. If you paid for the CD, then that's probably another matter, but oh well. Legal or not, it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Deb files pretty much flow like water all over the internet. Unless this is aimed at people with dialup, I don't know why they'd expect anyone to pay. Even then, if I was using dialup, I wouldn't be using Debian.

Having said that, it would be pretty ironic if someone cracked the encryption and wrote a GPL licensed program to decrypt the CDs that this company distributes.


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