Unredistributable Code (Part 2)

A “mini-editorial” about the cdrecord licensing issue over at OSNews begins:

Basically, the author of cdrecord modified its license to not allow modifications of his code by distros without doing so in cooperation with the author.

Many critisized[sic] the author as a free software-sellout, however, in my opinion, the author has the right to do these modifications and so I am with him…

The link there is to my original blog entry on the issue.

I think it’s clear in my original post, but I feel I should reiterate that I was not criticising Mr Schilling, merely pointing out some of the legal ramifications of his actions. I agree with the OSNews author, that he has the right to license his code how he likes; my point was merely that his change made the code unredistributable, which is probably not what he intended.

I am told (although I haven’t verified this) that the problematic comment has been removed in the latest release, so it looks like the matter has been happily resolved.

One thought on “Unredistributable Code (Part 2)

  1. Personally, I find it deplorable to try to add clauses to the GPL like this. If he wants to keep his DVD cash cow (as it appears to me), he should just switch cdrecord to the MineAllMine License, assuming he has copyright on it all. I can’t believe how many people support his position on OSNews. Too many posters forget the license it’s under, and why his code is being aggressively changed by distros. Besides, Linus actively encourages distros to modify the kernel, so downstream changes aren’t as bad as some people believe. Getting away from opinion, I believe he still has restrictions on it. In cdrtools-2.01a38-pre.tar.bz2, which was released on the 19th, he includes the following comment on line 295 of cdrecord/cdrecord.c:

    * Begin restricted code for quality assurance.
    * Warning: you are not allowed to modify or to remove the
    * Copyright and version printing code below!
    * See also GPL � 2 subclause c)
    * If you modify cdrecord you need to include additional version
    * printing code that:
    * – Clearly states that the current version is an
    * inofficial (modified) version and thus may have bugs
    * that are not present in the original.
    * – Print your support e-mail address and tell people that
    * you will do complete support for this version of
    * cdrecord.
    * Or clearly state that there is absolutely no support
    * for the modified version you did create.
    * – Tell the users not to ask the original author for
    * help.
    * This limitation definitely also applies when you use any other
    * cdrecord release together with libscg-0.6 or later, or when you
    * use any amount of code from cdrecord-1.11a17 or later.
    * In fact, it applies to any version of cdrecord, see also
    * GPL Preamble, subsection 6.
    * I am sorry for the inconvenience but I am forced to do this because
    * some people create inofficial branches. These branches create
    * problems but the initiators do not give support and thus cause the
    * development of the official cdrecord versions to slow down because
    * I am loaded with unneeded work.
    * Please note that this is a memorandum on how I interpret the GPL.
    * If you use/modify/redistribute cdrecord, you need to accept it
    * this way.
    * The above statement is void if there has been neither a new version
    * of cdrecord nor a new version of star from the original author
    * within more then a year.