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Re: GPL and other licences


From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: GPL and other licences
Date: Sat, 11 Feb 2006 12:06:21 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.0.50 (gnu/linux)

"Alfred M\. Szmidt" <address@hidden> writes:

>    Alfred, can you please try and maintain proper attributions and
>    follow quoting conventions?
>
> I'm already doing that.
>
>    >    It depends on the license.  The GPL gives an explicity right for
>    > this, some other licenses may not.  If I'm in the legal possession of
>    > GPLed software, maybe because my employer gave me an CD to use and
>    > install that specific program, then I'm also allowed to redistribute
>    > it.
>    > ^^
>    > The _content_on_it_! not the acutual CD.
>
>    You do not have the right to copy the CD, so how could gain access
>    to the contents?
>
> Because the employeer gave me explicit access to the CD.  See the
> above sentence.

If I am giving cleaning personnel access to my rooms, that does not
mean that they are free to read my letters and listen to my music
collection.

Access is not ownership.  You don't get when internal use is.

>    It is only the owner of the CD who can accept the GPL and acquire
>    the right to make copies and distribute those.
>
> It is the person who has the GPLed software who can accept the
> license, not the person who owns the CD.

There is nothing to "accept" in a license.  One accepts contracts.
And no, the rights granted by either contract or copyright are just
granted to the owner.  The GPL states:

      0. This License applies to any program or other work which contains
    a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it may be distributed
    under the terms of this General Public License.  The "Program", below,
    refers to any such program or work, and a "work based on the Program"
    means either the Program or any derivative work under copyright law:
    that is to say, a work containing the Program or a portion of it,
    either verbatim or with modifications and/or translated into another
    language.  (Hereinafter, translation is included without limitation in
    the term "modification".)  Each licensee is addressed as "you".

This means that the GPL _only_ grants rights to "licensees".  As a
worker for a company that has licensed the software, you are not a
licensee, unless the company chooses to give you license for personal
use.

> For example, I do not own the disk drives on ftp.gnu.org.  According
> to you, since I am not the owner of those disk drivers, I'm not
> allowed to accept the license.

Right.  But the rightful owner of those copies grants you access to it
for the sake of creating your own copies of it under the GPL.  It
distributes the stuff.

Are you claiming that a company distributes software when used
internally?  If so, it would have to adhere to

  3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it,
under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of
Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

    a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable
    source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections
    1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

    b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
    years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your
    cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete
    machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
    distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium
    customarily used for software interchange; or,

    c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer
    to distribute corresponding source code.  (This alternative is
    allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you
    received the program in object code or executable form with such
    an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

If your employer tells you to use company internal software for some
task, do you really think you are in a position to demand the source
code?

> According to me, since I'm allowed (legally!) to read the content of
> the disk, I'm able to acquire a license for the software.

Wrong.  Because you are granted access for the _purpose_ of creating
your own copy licensed under the GPL, you are able to do so.  The mere
access itself (which could have been gained by accidental server
misconfiguration) is not a license to do so: if I leave open the door
to my house by mistake, that does not allow you to enter and read my
books.

-- 
David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum


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