> OK, company X writes a 50-Megabyte program the needs a sort routine. The cost
> of writing one is of course, trivial. But the cost of a tiny modification to
> one that comes with GNAT is even less.
> Lawyers: "Wait! We don't want our code to be under the GPL!"
> Programmer: "No problem. See this special exception?"
> Lawyers: "OK, go ahead."
> Zealous free software promoter: "Hey, when you distributed your program,
> you distributed some GPL'd sort code. You gotta tell me how to get a copy
> of the source for that part."
> Management: "#$^$^%%! We saved a hundred dollars by re-using GNAT code,
> now we have to spend a hundred dollars a week answering requests for the
> source. We'll never use any GNAT code again!"
No, no, no! This is misinformation! Please erase this information
from your memory and don't spread it!
This is a Very Bad Thing to have these junk "stories" floating
If a lawyer is involved, he will notice that the company may charge
the zealous guy for some *real* money that will cover the complete
amount of work done to give the sources. There is a special section
of the GPL devoted to this issue (see below).
In short, the company you mentionned just have to say: "you want
the sources, fine, here is the cost: cost to handle your request by
me plus cost of paying someone (X hours) to purchase the media plus
cost of getting the sources out of our system plus cost of copying
plus the cost of sending it equals <total figure>. Company lost no
The copying fee in the GPL is not just the cost of the disk (or
whatever media), it is the whole cost (no more, no less).
GPL> b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
GPL> years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your
GPL> cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete
GPL> machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
GPL> distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium
GPL> customarily used for software interchange; or,
(Note the three years limit here, you're not bound to this
obligation until the end of times.)
Anyway, this a very exceptional situation, where company decided to
play strange games because the Programmer didn't give a good
advice: if you change some modified GPLed code, just put it (and
only it) somewhere in your product binary distribution at the time
you make your tiny (as implied by the beginning of the story)
change (the note on how to get complete GNAT library sources in all
the GNAT library headers), so you fall into option a:
GPL> a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable
GPL> source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections
GPL> 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,
And you'll never hear about zealous guyes or better: there will be
no zealous guyes around, only happy ones because they have the
sources courtesy of nice company!
Laurent Guerby <[log in to unmask]>, Ada Core Technologies Europe.
"Use the Source, Luke. The Source will be with you, always (GPL)."