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Re: Did I finally figure out the rationale?


From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Did I finally figure out the rationale?
Date: Sat, 26 May 2007 21:32:24 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.1.50 (gnu/linux)

mike3 <address@hidden> writes:

> So, are any of these right? Did I finally get the drift? Were my
> understandings finally corrrect at last?

No.  The problem is that the GPLed program is licensed to you under
conditions.  If you don't heed the conditions, you don't gain the
right to redistribute the GPLed code.  The conditions include that you
must not make the software part of something licensed differently.

Now most software "licenses" purport not at all to be licenses, namely
permissions for doing something.  Instead they purport to be
contracts: that is why you have to click "I agree" and similar stuff.
In that case, a legal defense can actually be that you can't enter
into a contract by clicking on a button on some screen.

The GPL does not want to go there.  Part of the reason is that it
complicates enforcement if you have to prove that the recipient _had_
to know about the contract and had agreed to it, and it also does not
help that such buttons can be removed.  While there is actually a
provision to retain copyleft notices in interactive programs, it is
probably one of the parts of the license few people actually worry
bothering about.

Anyway, the GPL is designed to give you additional freedoms, not to
take them away.  Partly because it is a matter of its self-image,
partly because it greatly simplifies defending it in court since "I
did not accept" does not help with a license, just with a contract.

Now the law prescribes certain rights to the purchaser of a medium
with copyrighted material on it, if the medium has been purchased from
somebody authorized to create a copy.  Since the GPL is not intended
to meddle with the business of software _distribution_, pretty much
any channel is authorized by default, in any volume, and the author is
considered to be reimbursed to the degree he can demand.

One of the things you can do when having received a number of
copyrighted copies of some work, is to tie them together with other
independent works and sell them as a collection.  As long as you paid
the requisite price for each copy to somebody authorized by the
copyright holder, it is your _right_ to do so without further
questions and negotiations.

Since the GPL allows for anybody to replicate and redistribute any
number of unmodified copies, the GPL can't interfere with the creation
of collections.

There are laws (and those differ from countries) which state when you
are no longer creating independent collections or aggregations, and
when the resulting work has a form that requires specific permission
from the copyright holder, permission that is not implied in the legal
purchase of a single copy.

So that is the borderline where the GPL claims to be effective, the
borderline which was originally more or less intended to protect
artistic integrity.

In short: the GPL tries to do as much as it can to promote software
under the constraints that mass redistribution of unmodified GPLed
software should remain permitted without requiring contractual
restrictions.

In spite of its detractors, it does a pretty good job with that.

-- 
David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum


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