[aur-general] Notification of GPL violation

Miguel Revilla Rodríguez yo at miguelrevilla.com
Sat May 22 19:51:51 UTC 2021

El sáb, 22 may 2021 a las 20:51, Yangjun Wang via aur-general (<
aur-general at lists.archlinux.org>) escribió:

> Not a lawyer here, but here is my opinion on the matter.
> I do not remember the GPL license stating anything about "sensible
> modifications", and while I do partly understand how some people are not
> happy about the certain clauses in some of these licenses, it is
> important to remember that these licenses have legal effects, while
> individual opinions on what modifications are "sensible" and what are
> not do not have any legal effect in most cases. Personal opinions for or
> against the chosen license do not excuse anyone from disobeying the
> license as long as the license applies (of which the details may vary
> depending on the country), in the same way "I hate person X" is in not
> an (legally) accepted reason for killing the particular person in most
> cases, although this comparison might be a bit extreme.
> Basically, if you have anything against the license of a software, write
> to the author about it or do not use the software. Period.
Not a lawyer either, but I think that the discussion, while really
interesting, is missing a couple of core points regarding the license:

a) Arch is not distributing the source code of the software in any form,
modified or not.
b) Arch is not distributing a compiled version of the software either.

And, as it happens that the GPL (as well as most OS licenses out there) is
about distribution and not about (custom/personal) use, I really can't see
how on Earth it is being violated.

The point is that Arch (AUR) is just distributing:

$ wget foo.bar/foobar.tgz
$ tar xvf foobar.tgz
$ [sed s/foo/bar/|patch < foobar.patch|whatever]
$ make

If the result of that never leaves the computer in which it was executed,
where is the distribution element?

I can take ANY GPL software out there, make as many modifications as I like
(I can even change the copyright notice and put a string saying that it
belongs to my dog) and, as long as it never leaves my computer, I am still
fully compliant with the license. If upstream doesn't like me to mess with
their code, then maybe they shouldn't publish the code in the first place,
but there's not a single reason to try to forbid some others (AUR) to
publish A SCRIPT that helps people build custom binary versions not
intended to be distributed in any way. What would happen then with the
PKGBUILDs that are downloading, modifying (yep, modifying to the point of
removing/changing binary libraries, using patchelf, etc.) and repackaging
proprietary software?

In short, regarding upstream's request... nothing to see here, please



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