Re: Obsolesence of Intellectual Property

From: Robert Sweeney (
Date: Thu Aug 03 2000 - 12:58:06 MDT

"Michael S. Lorrey" wrote:

> Robert Sweeney wrote:
> > Michael S. Lorrey wrote on Wed, 02 Aug 2000 10:03:13 -0400:
> > > [...]
> > > Except that linux is NOT free. It typically is sold on CD-ROM for
> > > $40-80, which is little different from other operating systems. Can I
> > > reproduce a Redhat CD-ROM and sell them for a buck if I want to? No, I
> > > can't.
> > Actually, I think you can. Check , which sells lots
> > of Linux and related stuff roughly at the costs of reproduction (even
> > "Linux By The Pound"). They have a whole "Red Hat" corner. The $40-80 that
> > "Official" Red Hat costs is largely for the support RH supposedly
> > offers.
> So the 'Official' Red Hat CANNOT be reproduced, and I cannot sell or give away
> the work of Red Hat (whether its their programming work or their Customer
> Support work is really irrelevant, and a pointless distinction) without
> compensating them to the degree they desire.

Irrelevant and pointless to you maybe, not to Linux hackers who don't want to
spend time downloading but also don't need handholding and don't want to pay for
it. For them, all they need is the CD. My understanding is that it's the
customer support work that they're selling for your $40-80 or whatever, and that
makes it "official", i.e. you have to register the "official" package to talk to
them. You also get a manual. I don't know the distributability of the manual
offhand - I'd expect it's copyrighted. You can reproduce Linux (and whatever
else comes on the CD) as much as you want under the terms of the licenses of that
software - GPL and variants. You're free then to offer whatever support you want
to provide, including none, at whatever terms you want. Cheapbytes provides
none. Such software that Red Hat itself has added to its Linux distribution (not
much, but RPM really makes life easier) is under the GPL or comparable license as
far as I'm aware; that's why Cheapbytes, and you, can distribute it. I think
they do have some products which are not distributable that way, but I don't
follow their product line that closely to be sure. Clearly, though, they're
mainly in the business of selling _support_ - someone to call when things break,
rather than original software.

/rs   Rob Sweeney ;

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