And the point is, that they're not asking Mint for money for using their servers. They're asking Mint to license the binaries of open source code, code which Canonical does not own, and is trying to enforce license terms that would prevent Mint from competing with Canonical on the OEM market. That goes against the spirit of free software, and the GPL license as well, and Canonical has no legal standing here - they have no right to control how free, GPL-licensed software is used, no matter if they compiled it to a binary or not.
This whole thing makes me want to do the same, but for an established personal fork with myriad customizations and many saved images a reinstall from a stock installer is a bear of a job, and a crossgrade to Debian Unstable is also a nasty job, even with the easy availablity of extra copies of the starting point OS image. I suppose I could rip out Upstart and replace it with Systemd, and replace LightDM with MDM so as to be rid of all Ubuntu's CLA-licensed software, then set up APT to always prefer Debian repos but pull from both for a gradual crossgrade.
Really? Which part of the GPL does not allow you to provide binary packages of open source software to your conditions?That goes against the spirit of free software, and the GPL license as well, and Canonical has no legal standing here - they have no right to control how free, GPL-licensed software is used, no matter if they compiled it to a binary or not.
And yes, the GPL places very specific terms under which you're allowed to distribute binary packages of the code. You have to include source code, you have to keep the same license terms intact (share alike)... no one who distributes a GPL-licensed code, either in binary or source form, has any right to dictate to anyone else what they are allowed to do with the code or how they're allowed to use it. That is exactly what the GPL license is meant to prevent, it's meant to provide the four freedoms equally to everyone: to use, examine, modify and distribute the software, without any restrictions apart from those outlined in the GPL license, which are designed only to ensure that no one can take those rights away from you.
It is fine to charge money for binaries. That's not the problem here. Again, Canonical is not asking for money to cover their hosting expenses, nor are they asking money to cover the cost of building/maintaining the packages. They are telling Mint that Mint has to accept Canonical's license terms in order to use binaries used by Canonical, they're trying to dictate how others can use open source (probably most of it GPL-licensed) code, in order to restrict their competition. They want to prevent Mint from competing for the same OEM deals. That is a page from the book of microsoft - it's anticompetitive and flies entirely against the spirit of FOSS.
You may not propagate or modify a covered work except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to propagate or modify it is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License (including any patent licenses granted under the third paragraph of section 11).Each time you convey a covered work, the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensors, to run, modify and propagate that work, subject to this License.So Canonical is not allowed to add on any external licensing terms on top of a GPLv3 license. That's up to the copyright holders of the software in question to decide. They can only distribute a GPL-licensed software under the terms of the GPL license, if they try to distribute with terms that are not compatible with the GPL license, they are in violation of the GPL license.You may not impose any further restrictions on the exercise of the rights granted or affirmed under this License. For example, you may not impose a license fee, royalty, or other charge for exercise of rights granted under this License, and you may not initiate litigation (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit) alleging that any patent claim is infringed by making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the Program or any portion of it.
What they're trying to do is demand an external license from Mint for their binary packages. That is not allowed in GPL, the GPL requires to keep the license terms and conditions intact, ie. Canonical received the software under the GPL license, therefore they can only distribute it under the GPL license, and can't add their own arbitrary terms on top of the terms of the GPL.
Note that the GPL license explicitly allows charging money for distribution (of either the binary or source form). It does not, explicitly or otherwise, allow dictating to the recipients how they can use the software, apart from the terms of the GPL license itself.