Re: Using USRP/GNURADIO Commercially

John,

I understand that if you just provide the binaries to a customer, you
must give them a means to get the source code, and if they choose to
distribute that binary to others, they’ll just pass on that original
offer and hence you’re on the hook for providing anyone with source
thereafter. Yes?

However…

If I provide the binaries & source code to a customer (and make it clear
that the source code will always be included with any binary I deliver
to them), can’t I just stipulate that the customer must then provide the
binaries & source bundled together if they choose to redistribute it?
E.g., the “offer to obtain the source code” would ready something like,
“you should have already received the source with this binary file; if
you haven’t, the person or company you received the binary from must
provide you with the source.”

I’m thinking of the scenario here where you’re a consultant and work on
a bunch of small projects using GPL’d code, but you always deliver the
full source code along with your binaries to your own customers. Having
to then deal with anyone and everyone your own customer chooses to
provide “the product” to then seems quite onerous for a single-man
consulting company.

I’d appreciate your input; thanks! (Disclaimer: I realize you’re not a
lawyer and you’re just giving your personal interpretation and not
professional legal advice on these matters.)

—Joel

On Mon, Jul 21, 2008 at 11:47 AM, Joel K.
[email protected] wrote:

John,

I understand that if you just provide the binaries to a customer, you must give them a means to get the source code, and if they choose to distribute that binary to others, they’ll just pass on that original offer and hence you’re on the hook for providing anyone with source thereafter. Yes?

However…

If I provide the binaries & source code to a customer (and make it clear that the source code will always be included with any binary I deliver to them), can’t I just stipulate that the customer must then provide the binaries & source bundled together if they choose to redistribute it? E.g., the “offer to obtain the source code” would ready something like, “you should have already received the source with this binary file; if you haven’t, the person or company you received the binary from must provide you with the source.”

This is how GPLv2 works. You’re only obligated to provide the code
to people you provide the binaries to (on request, and at a reasonable
cost). They are then obligated to do the same to people they directly
redistribute to. If you hand out the code with the initial copy you
have no further obligation.

v3 is even simpler in that it lets you direct people to online
repositories for off the shelf code.

Joel-

Your question doesn’t make sense to me. If your clients pay you to
develop source code that derives from, or
partially incorporates, GPL licensed code then they own the developed
source, not you. They are responsible for
license issues with the newly developed code.

If someone were to ask you, the answer is simply “it’s not my code”.
The only way you would still be involved is if
there was some IP that you owned and licensed to your client. Is there?

-Jeff

“Jeff B.” [email protected] writes:

Joel-

Your question doesn’t make sense to me. If your clients pay you to
develop source code that derives from, or partially incorporates, GPL
licensed code then they own the developed source, not you. They are
responsible for license issues with the newly developed code.

This is getting way off topic, but this is incorrect (assuming we are
talking in the US). Look up the “work for hire” doctrine in copyright
law. Absent a written agreement, the general notion is the clients do
not hold copyright, but employers do.

sort of on topic: This is why the FSF asks for a disclaimer from
employers that code is not within the scope of employment. My GNU Radio
changes, and that of my project team, are assigned to FSF, but the
assignment is from BBN since those were changes made by employees (and
done “within the scope of employment”).

Greg-

sort of on topic: This is why the FSF asks for a disclaimer from
employers that code is not within the scope of employment. My GNU Radio
changes, and that of my project team, are assigned to FSF, but the
assignment is from BBN since those were changes made by employees (and
done “within the scope of employment”).

I was assuming a development contract that specified the client received
all rights to the code for which they paid
for development.

All good points that you make. Thanks. I should have made my
assumption clear.

-Jeff

Your question doesn’t make sense to me. If your
clients pay you to develop source code that derives from,
or
partially incorporates, GPL licensed code then they own the
developed source, not you.

They might “own” it, but since using GPL requires the company who paid
me to provide the new source code (that I developed) upon request to
anyone they provide the binaries to (and allow that person to then use
it for their own projects or whatever), I’m not sure the term
“ownership” is particularly meaningful at that point.

I believe a common consulting situation is where you develop some
software using GPL’d code and provide binaries & source back to a
company that only uses the software internally and never distributes it
to anyone outside the company (thus no one outside the company gets the
source code nor binaries); the GPL makes it clear that no one can
force you to distribute your binaries if you don’t wish to do so. As
such they might as well “own” it, I suppose.

I realize that, with enough legal contortions, you can attempt to
separate out “proprietary” parts covered by your own license from those
that are GPL’d, like, e.g., the DD-WRT people did. People have spent a
huge amount of time arguing about whether or not doing so can is legal,
but until it’s tried in court no one really knows. It certainly
violates the intent of the GPL. (Someone with such an intent “should”
be using software licensed under the lGPL, for instance…)

—Joel

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