[Fedora-legal-list] Forced copyright assignment

Tom Callaway tcallawa at redhat.com
Sat Jan 29 21:40:06 UTC 2011

On 01/28/2011 09:11 AM, Matt McCutchen wrote:
> AIUI, purporting to release a work under the GPL does not oblige the
> licensor to provide the source.

I disagree, especially given that the licensor is claiming to be the
sole copyright holder and they are distributing the work.

GPLv2 ties the right to copy/distribute the Program with the requirement
that the distributor either distribute it with the source code (3a) or a
written offer for how to get the source code (3b) (there is a 3c here,
but it is less relevant here).

So, distributing (aka, "releasing a work") under the GPL absolutely
obliges the licensor to provide the source to recipients of the Program
(usually the binary).

The gray area here is whether "the source" for GPL licensed hex firmware
is the hex dump or the asm which is then compiled into the hex dump. I
feel strongly that the hex dump is the "Program", and the asm code is
"the source", and the GPL reinforces that:

(from v2):

  The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for
  making modifications to it.

Unless you can prove to me that the upstream vendors are making the
majority of the modifications to their firmware with a hex editor, then
it is not the "preferred form of the work".

But, this is just my opinion, and a judge might disagree with me.

Also, IANAL. :)


Fedora Project

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