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Tue, 16 Dec 2014 02:34:06 -0600
> What does this have to do with Axiom?
License discussions arise from time to time. We have a long email
history in Axiom discussing licensing.
This is the first court case involving the GPL that has not (yet)
settled out of court. Licensing and copyright law, at least in the
U.S., depends on a body of court cases to shape their validity in
practice. So the judgments in this case, assuming it goes to trial,
will define a lot about what the GPL means, what parts are vital,
what parts can be enforced, and what remedies are available.
As for the employee issue, at least in the U.S., software is generally
licensed to the corporation, not to the individual employee. Use by
an employee would not be considered distribution and an employee would
not have redistribution rights. However, as I looked into the details,
it seems that Ameriprise licenses their "brand name" to individuals but
those individuals are "1099" paid contractors, not employees.
A 1099 contractor is an independent entity. I do 1099 contract work
under my own company ("Literate Software") so this would constitute
distribution to an independent firm that only holds a brand-name
It is even more interesting because apparently Ameriprise modifies
the GPL software using contract programmers. Will the judge enforce
releasing Ameriprise intellectual property? Or will he strike down
that portion as non-essential? Licenses and contracts usually have
"severance clauses" which allow partial enforcement (all of my
Literate Software contracts have had one). Will he enforce release
or simply provide relief by stopping distribution?
I see the severance clause in GPLv2
If any portion of this section is held invalid or unenforceable
under any particular cirumstance, the balance of the section is
intended to apply and the section as a whole is intended to apply
in other circumstances.
so the judge can "cut up the GPLv2" and only partially enforce it.
GPLv3, according to my reading, seems to have deleted that clause
which would mean that any flaw invalidates the whole license. That's
a pretty big bet for a license that has never been enforced by the
court and has no prior case law.
I really wish Groklaw was still active. This is going to be fun to watch.
Pass the popcorn.
- [Axiom-developer] GPLv2,