RE: Linksys WRT54G and the GPL

From: David Schwartz (
Date: Wed Jun 11 2003 - 15:12:59 EST

> On Wed, Jun 11, 2003 at 10:39:36AM -0700, Randolph Bentson wrote:

> >...
> > If the distributor elects to distribute the object code or executable
> > form under clause 3b, one might reasonably argue that the distributor
> > need only distribute the source to those third parties in possession
> > of the written offer which must be included. Others may argue that
> >...

> "Accompany it with a written offer, ..., to give any third party, ..., a
> complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code..."
> This is non-ambiguous. You might _not_ "reasonably argue" about it, the
> "any third party" leaves no room for other interpretations.
> > Randolph Bentson
> cu
> Adrian

        Think about this logically. Suppose a company releases a product and
(maybe) accompanies it with such a written offer (I mean, how could you know
for sure if you hadn't seen it?). You call the company up to try to enforce
the offer. They say, "What offer?" You say, "the written offer that
accompanied some copies of your product." You can't cite the text of the
written offer, you can't specify any specific person they made the offer to.

        It is totally reasonable to construe "any third party" to mean that the
offer can't specify that it's only vaild for certain particular individuals.
In fact, I always understood simply to mean that you couldn't limit the
offer to only the purchaser (assuming the product was sold).

        What would the purpose be of a "written offer" (and why would you have to
"accompany" the object code with it?) if not that the offer is an
enforceable 'coupon'? Why wouldn't the GPL just say that you have to
"provide any third party with a complete machine-readable copy of the
corresponding source code". Why specify a written offer if it just meant
that you had to offer it?


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