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Re: Sharing the GPL source code, with value addition by vendor specific


From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Sharing the GPL source code, with value addition by vendor specific to his hardware?
Date: Wed, 08 Dec 2010 16:03:46 -0000
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.0.50 (gnu/linux)

RJack <address@hidden> writes:

> On 10/12/2010 11:19 AM, Hyman Rosen wrote:
>> On 10/12/2010 10:59 AM, RJack wrote:
>>> On 10/12/2010 10:20 AM, Hyman Rosen wrote:
>>>> The GPL is a straightforward copyright license. Each time a
>>>> court has had an opportunity to read it, they regarded it as
>>>> such.
>>>
>>> To which federal courts are you referring?
>>
>> The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals:
>>
>> The Massachusetts District Court:
>>
>> The N.D. Illinois District Court:

>> The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals:
>
> Nobody disputes that the GPL is a copyright license. I certainly
> don't. I dispute the claim that the GPL is an enforceable copyright
> license. No federal court has ever ruled on the merits that the GPL is
> an enforceable copyright license.

There is no such thing as an "enforceable license" since a license is by
definition a _permission_, notwithstanding the abuse of legal terms
software companies use when calling a licensing _contract_ a license.

The GPL certainly is not enforceable: ignore its conditions, and it
becomes irrelevant.  In jurisdictions without copyright, its terms and
conditions can be ignored without legal repercussions.  That is in
contrast to licensing contracts, in case you have agreed to them.

Now jurisdictions without copyright are somewhat rare in this world, so
short of any other copying permission, you are usually well-advised to
heed the GPL licensing terms when distributing software.  Otherwise you
are likely to end up in court.  Not for breaching the GPL (that is
entirely up to you), but for breaching copyright without a valid
permission.  Now you'll shout "promissory estoppel", namely "your honor,
I was of the impression that I was allowed to use the permissions of the
GPL without heeding its conditions, because Rjack told me so, and that
is entirely the licensor's fault".

This line of reasoning might conceivably work if Rjack himself happens
to be the licensor, as he is on public record that he considers the GPL
as the equivalent of Public Domain.  Unfortunately, real-world licensors
tend not to spout off nonsense like that, and promissory estoppel will
be good for a short laugh in the court at best.

> The eight remaining defendants in the Best Buy Inc. litigation are
> about to expose the Free Software movement for what it is -- a
> complete fraud.

That's what we have heard in every case so far from you.  You have no
explanations for defendants coming into compliance after out of court
settlements, and when no such settlement occurs and a verdict is handed
down, you foam at your mouth about drunk judges and why they are all
wrong and such.

I hope you are a better grandfather than a troll.

-- 
David Kastrup


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