What price do you want?

Cristian Gafton gafton at redhat.com
Fri Sep 26 04:48:27 UTC 2003

On Thu, 25 Sep 2003, Buck wrote:

> The way I see it, Red Hat distributes the GPL with the software, but
> they won't sell it unless the buyer signs a contract that contradicts it
> saying that they will lose all support if they distribute it or use it
> on more than one computer.

It is actually simpler than that. 

On the license thing: The GPL and your right to redistribute and copy
around individual pieces licensed under GPL are one thing that nobody can
touch. However, the compilation of those pieces as a whole, the way they
are put together, does have additional caveats, like if you distribute it
you can not call it "Red Hat" anything, you can not use Red Hat trademarks
in promoting it without a written permission, etc. You can not represent
that you are offering to others a Red Hat product because you are not -
you are not offering support, you are not offering any of the genuine Red
Hat services that we provide for our products. We're working really hard
to make sure that a Red Hat product, when it gets offered, it gets offered
with the whole set of support options and services that we currently

On the support contract. This is what many people wrongly perceive as a
limitation imposed by Red Hat on the GPL. In fact, this is a matter of a
pretty standard support contract. In its simplest terms, it says that if
you or your company wants to enter a support contract with Red Hat, you
have to buy support for all your Linux servers running a Red Hat release.
Our sales folks can get you details on volume discounts and stuff like
that. I have seen this called by some folks an "all or nothing" policy -
and the debate on its merits can go on ad nauseum. From where we stand,
there is a big difference in costs and effort required to support a
company with 5 servers compared to one with 1000. We think it is fair to
use that number of servers as an indicator of how complex things will be 
for our support staff.

> It is that combination that says effectively, "You can buy this software
> but you must give up your rights to the GPL I am required to include
> with it.
> I am afraid I would have to see the rule that gives them that right. 

I'd like to point out that you are mixing different things together. You 
are looking at the terms and conditions of a *support contract* and you 
interpret that as an alteration to the license under which this is 
distributed. If you want support, the cost is dependent on your network 
size. Emphasis on "if you want support".

Cristian, speaking for himself
Cristian Gafton     --     gafton at redhat.com      --     Red Hat, Inc.
  "There are two kinds of people who never amount to much: those who 
   cannot do what they are told, and those who can do nothing else."
        --Cyrus Curtis

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