Linked by David Adams on Wed 30th Nov 2011 20:23 UTC
Editorial A reader asks: "Can someone comment on the legality of using my brother's old Snow Leopard DVD to install OS X? My brother has Lion, so why can't he choose to give it to me? It doesn't violate Apple's 1 license per 1 computer policy."
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Um.. one does indeed have to agree to the GPL in the form of adhering to it's four granted freedoms do they not? If one modifies the code, compiles it distributes the binary and does not provide access to the modified source code they are breaking the agreement to adhere to the GPL. Specifically; infringing copyright by removing permissions which the license requires they pass down to the recipient of the derivitive work.


The GPL license grants everybody unconditional permission to obtain, install, optionally to modify, and to run the software which comes under that license.

The GPL license also grants conditional permission to copy and redistribute the software which comes under that license.

The conditional permissions are granted only if the conditions are met (which happens to be the very nature of a "condition", BTW). The unconditional permissions are granted regardless.

There is no agreement required from any recipient. Nothing to sign, no EULA agreement to agree to, nothing even to click on. All recipients get the unconditional permissions and, if they meet the conditions, they also get the conditional permissions, regardless if they "agree" or not.

Teacher: "Everyone has permission to go to the toilet if they want, but not to go to the playground unless they have handed up their assignment".

It doesn't matter if the students "agree", or not. Clear enough, wouldn't you say? Even ten-year-olds should be able to understand this.

If someone does modify the GPL-licensed code, compile it and then distribute the binary, and does not provide access to the modified source code, since they have not met the conditions of the GPL then they simply have no permission to do that. Copyright law insists that people who distribute copies of (or derivatives of) copyrighted works must first obtain permission from the original authors of the works.

It is all perfectly clear and straightforward. There is simply no "agreement" required. One doesn't need to have "agreed" to a law in order to be bound by it, nor does one need to "agree" to be given a permission that one wouldn't normally get. The granter of a permission gets total say over what conditions must be met before the permission is granted, the receiver of the permission does not get any opportunity to agree or disagree. Without permission, one doesn't have permission. Its a bleeding obvious statement on the face of it, in effect a non-sequitur.

The GPL is a license, a simple grant of permissions, some of which are granted conditionally. It is not a EULA, and it is not a contract.

Edited 2011-12-02 00:35 UTC

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