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Re: More FSF hypocrisy


From: amicus_curious
Subject: Re: More FSF hypocrisy
Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2009 09:05:53 -0400


"Thufir Hawat" <address@hidden> wrote in message news:address@hidden
On Wed, 25 Mar 2009 19:41:15 -0400, amicus_curious wrote:

"Thufir Hawat" <address@hidden> wrote in message
news:address@hidden
On Wed, 25 Mar 2009 16:17:58 -0400, amicus_curious wrote:

If EULA are contracts, what makes the GPL different from other EULA,
in your view?

It is not any different at all.  Both are contracts.

Now, what do you think happens when such a contract is breached?


IANAL, are you?


Do you think that it would matter much to you?  Certainly there are many
lawyers who disparage the GPL and there are at least a few who think it
is a wonderful thing.  Will you only listen to lawyers who agree with
your emotional interests or would you change your mind if a lawyer told
you that you were wrong?  If a lawyer really isn't enough, would you
believe a judge? The only problem there is that there are judges on both
sides of the issue, too.   If you ANAL, what are you ever to do?


I would give your words more weight on these legalisms were you to claim
to be a lawyer.  So far as I can tell this thought process lumps the GPL
in with all other EULA on the one hand, and then differentiates on the
other, but only when convenient.  In all of the postings I've seen no
reason to treat the GPL differently from other EULA -- violation,
ignoring it, whatever, results in being charged/sued/whatever with
copyright infringement.  Just like other EULA's, right?

It gets down to arguement in the end and the jury gets to decide. They are never lawyers, you know, and rarely even very familiar with technology at all. The question becomes "Is the arguement persuasive?" and at the end of the day that is all that matters.

The GPL is just another EULA, I think, and you have to consider what it says. Just like the EULA for Windows or MS Office or Quicken or anything else, it first says that you, the end user, can use this thing. In the case of the GPL, it allows the end user to pretty much do anything that he pleases, that is their idea of "freedom". That is fine with me and one would think that would never be very controversial. The language seems to say that the end user is free no matter how the software was obtained.

The EULAs for other products tend to be more restrictive and revoke the end user's license to use the software when various conditions exist. Not so with the GPL.

That creates an interesting kind of situation, i.e. where the end user obtains the software from an unauthorized source, for example one of the companies sued by the SFLC for improperly distributing BusyBox. I think all of these suits are now resolved, but at least for a period of time, there were end users who had obtained and were using the software before whatever the final agreements were took effect. The end users were not themselves illegal, since the GPL extends a license to use the software automatically.

When an end user gets a copy of a commercial software program from a warez site or just by borrowing a DVD from the office or a friend, that is not true. That end user is not authorized to use the software and the copyright owner can take some sort of action to get compensation, if only to nag the user constantly via some means. That is what it says in the EULA.

That is what is different about the GPL, I think, namely that the end user arrives at the same endpoint condition and the copyright owner is in the same condition regardless of the way that the software is conveyed. If there were a black box connecting the copyright owner to the end user, you could not ever say just what was in the box, only that some mechanism existed for conveying the software from the owner to the user.

After conveying the license to use the software to the end user, the GPL goes on and on about what is allowed to be in the black box. I don't think that the courts really care. They can only assess what variance there may be in the condition of the copyright owner based on what happens in the black box and, if there is no measurable effect, there can be no corrective action taken or compensation awarded.




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