In Brazil Elections, they developed a modified Linux version called "UENUX" to run 570 thousand electronic vote machines, where the people go to Vote on those machines.

Since they really mixed their code with a modified Linux distribution, I presume all code is "automatically" GPL-2.0. In this case, it's mandatory to open/release the code because people are using it in the voting machine? Thanks.

(as a general question: "people that Just Use a product whose software runs under a GPL license, can require access to the source code?")

1 Answer 1


No: the GPL triggers on distribution, not on use. The owners of the voting machines are the ones who the binaries have been distributed to so they can request the source code, but the end users cannot.

This is essentially the same as the SaaS loophole.

  • 2
    And the entire distro isn't likely to be GPL, anyway. The kernel certainly is, and other software may well be, but some will be under permissive free licences.
    – MadHatter
    Commented Dec 3, 2022 at 8:46
  • Good point; I may have interpreted "a modified Linux version" a bit literally. Commented Dec 3, 2022 at 10:11
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    @John That's not an argument which would hold any water at all in most Western countries; "the people" do not own everything their taxes have paid for ("yes, I'll just take this tank, thank you General"). I have no specifics about Brazilian law but I would be incredibly surprised if you get anywhere with it - but ask on Law SE if you really want to. Commented Dec 3, 2022 at 13:35
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    @John This is what the Free Software Foundation is trying to achieve with their Public money? Public code! campaign.
    – Bergi
    Commented Dec 3, 2022 at 22:56
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    Only in the original 4 clause BSD license. The advertising requirement is dropped in the 2/3 clause versions for various reasons, including being incompatible with the GPL. Commented Dec 4, 2022 at 4:55

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