Reporting violations of the GNU GPL

I would emphasize that violations of the GNU GPL are a very serious matter, and it is everyone's responsibility to respond to them and seek to have them corrected.

That said, 99% of the time it's just the result of ignorance. Many times, people see "GNU GPL" and think "I can use it for free". While this is true, many people just don't realize that if they *redistribute* the program they must be sure to follow the GNU GPL.

Whenever companies contact me and ask if they can distribute a copy of FreeDOS with their commercial/proprietary product, I always respond in the same way: yes you can include a copy of FreeDOS (usually they mean the kernel, but sometimes they mean FreeCOM and/or other FreeDOS utilities), but you must be sure to follow the GNU GPL.

When you email anyone to complain, you may want to use something like the following. Edit to suit the situation.

The GNU GPL has this provision for redistribution:

3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the program in object code or executable form with such an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

Of course, if you are selling a bundled product at a profit, 3c does not apply.

What most companies usually do when distributing FreeDOS with their product is do both 3a and 3b, when possible, even though only one is required. Using this shotgun approach makes sure that you are covered. In any case, it usually doesn't involve any effort.

What I usually recommend is to include on the CD-ROM a copy of the source code to the FreeDOS kernel that you used. This meets 3a, and most CD-ROM distributions (for example, driver disks, distribution media, ...) have lots of spare space anyway. But the FreeDOS kernel source doesn't take very much space. This should meet 3a.

If you cannot include a copy of the FreeDOS kernel source with your product, I would recommend making a statement in your printed or on-line help and/or documentation that makes special note that the FreeDOS kernel is distributed under the GNU GPL, and direct them to an area on your web site to download a copy of source code to the kernel that you used. Of course, many people also modify this somewhat, to use a statement something like "this software uses the FreeDOS kernel, which is distributed under the terms of the GNU GPL. You can download a copy of the source code to the FreeDOS kernel that we used from our web site at http://www.company.com/support/files/freedos/kernel.zip or request a copy of the source code in writing to {address} or get the most recent copy at the FreeDOS web site at http://www.freedos.org." This should meet 3b.

For more information, I would direct you to the GNU GPL page http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html on the GNU web site.

Of course, I am not a lawyer, so you will want to be sure to review the GNU GPL with legal counsel.

For more information, please also read Violations of the GPL, LGPL, and GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-violation.html) on the GNU web site.

Thanks,

-jh