GPL Compliance FAQ

I am not an attorney. This is not legal advice.

-- Warren

Q1. What is this GPL license all about?

A1. The GPL license and the Free Software Foundation make sense to me if I assume that the purpose of the GPL license is to force the redistribution of all source code and to prevent commerce that does not include the unencumbered redistribution of all source code. The FSF recommends that you assign your copyrights to them, so they can insure your software "freedom." If the FSF succeeds, all source code will be GPL licensed and controlled by the Free Software Foundation; and all Laws regarding software patents and copyrights will be rendered ineffective.

Q2. Why would anyone want the GPLed source code in MEPIS?

A2. Except for a few packages, the sources are available at the Ubuntu and Debian repositories. The MEPIS kernel source is available from the MEPIS repository. So there is no obvious reason for anyone to want to get the MEPIS related GPLed source code from MEPIS, except to verify that MEPIS is complying with the GPL license restrictions.

Q3. Who is required to distribute GPL licensed source code?

A3. According to the GPLv2 license, any party who causes a party to receive GPL licensed binary code is required to make available to that party a copy of the source code, if the other party requests it. It doesn't matter whether you have ever previously had or wanted a copy of the source code, you are required to have a copy so you can redistribute it.

Q4. Does this mean that if I give a copy of MEPIS to a friend, I also have to give them a copy of the GPLed source code?

A4. According to the Free Software Foundation, if they want the source code, it means exactly that. Whether you give MEPIS to a friend or install it on a computer and sell it, or even if you give it away on the street corner, you are still obligated by the restrictions of the GPL license.

Q5. I want to distribute MEPIS to others. How can I do that and meet the legal restrictions of the GPL license?

A5. MEPIS offers the source code in compliance with the GPL license restrictions. If you have an agency relationship with MEPIS, then you are not distributing MEPIS independently, and therefore you are not independently obligated by the GPL license.

Q6. How can I have an agency relationship with MEPIS so I can give away copies of MEPIS Linux?

A6. Only for the purpose of satisfying the restriction of the GPL license regarding GPLed source code, MEPIS hereby grants an automatic limited agency relationship to individuals and groups giving MEPIS CDs to others free of charge or for a fee that is charged only to raise funds for a legal not-for-profit activity. This includes individuals giving copies to friends, Linux User Groups, the KDE Project, the Debian Project, Ubuntu, and other not-for-profit entities. This relationship is not granted to for-profit entities and this relationship is not granted in jurisdictions where MEPIS is prohibited by applicable Law from distributing MEPIS, specifically the "T6" and the "restricted strong encryption" countries.

Q7. How can you charge for the source code? Isn't it suppose to be free?

A7. The "Free" in Free Software Foundation is not about price. It's about who controls the source code. The FSF has created a non-standard definition of the phrase "free software." See A1.

Q8. I'm not sure if my situation is covered by the other answers, what should I do?

A8. Contact MEPIS via info@mepis.org and explain your situation.