This is a follow up question from here.

Since I'm allowed to delay the distribution of the binary and source code as long as I provide the source code eventually. This makes me wonder if that does not defeat the purpose of the GPLV2 completely. If that is true, I could choose an arbitrary time when I release the source. So, I might change GPLv2 code and release the source eventually, years after the binary when my program does not have any business value.

I'm asking this question because I'm annoyed that Apple releases their open source component (some which are licensed under GPL) deliberately after their binary release.

1 Answer 1


Remember GPL is from 1985 or thereabouts, way before Internet and ubiquitous access to files. Much of it is dictated by the technology of the age, and also by even older copyright laws. You'd get programs on tape, diskettes were rarely used (and very low capacity).

Also remember that the obligations described apply only to somebody who isn't the owner of the relevant copyright. I can put my program under GPL, distribute binaries only and give noone the source. Makes little sense, but is well in my right.

You can either ship source with the binaries (the idea being on the same tape) or add an offer to give the source for five years to anybody who gets the binary somehow. Today usually binaries and source are shipped over the 'net.

If I put up only binaries for a GPL package that I don't own, anybody can ask for source. I don't remember any time frame, but presumably taking a few weeks (or even more) would not be considered a violation by a court.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.