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Re: GPL and other licences


From: Stefaan A Eeckels
Subject: Re: GPL and other licences
Date: Sun, 12 Feb 2006 13:44:08 +0100

On Sat, 11 Feb 2006 12:35:30 +0100
"Alfred M\. Szmidt" <address@hidden> wrote:

Please refrain from removing attributions. If you quote, have the
decency to include the name of the author.
 
> I said:
> > No, he instructed you, as his agent, to do things with the CD.
> > You are not accessing that CD as AMS, but as the agent of your
> > principal. You, as AMS, do not derive any rights from this action.
> 
> ... Unless the license gives me such rights.

But in this case there is no license between you and the licensor, so
it cannot give you any rights. Whatever rights you have would have to
come from the Copyright statutes, but they only apply when you are the
lawful owner of a copy (which, to belabour the point, you are *not*).

> `My' principal cannot redictate the terms of the license of the
> copyright holder without getting the copyright holder to redictate
> them.  If the license allows for sharing, then I am allowed to do so
> if I recived the copy in an lawful manner.

But you did not receive a copy. You received the instruction to do
something with your principal's property. Whether you use "to receive"
or "to give", what matters is whether you became the lawful owner of a
copy. And when you're handling your principal's property on his behalf
and at his behest, you do *not* become the owner of that property,
whether it be a CD with software, or a car, or a power drill, or the
text of a novel. The contents or type of property doesn't enter into
the equation at all.

> > This is wrong. The word "has" must mean "is the owner of the copy"
> > for any rights to accrue. Simply having it in your grubby little
> > paws gives you the same rights as the mailman - exactly none.
> 
> Please, do I really have to be this detailed after having exlpained
> the specific situation several times?  It is the person who is in the
> lawfull posession of the GPLed software who can accept the license,
> not just the person who owns the CD.

But you are not the lawful owner (or have lawful possession) of the CD.
You're merely using it to execute your job. 

> If you _lend_ me a CD, then I'm not the owner of the copy, and
> according to you, I wouldn't be able to access the content.  This is
> clearly false, and absurd.

Well, you have the physical ability to access its contents. But if this
CD contains software, then I am not allowed to lend it to you for the
purposes of installing the software on *your* computer, as I only have
the right to install said software on *my* computer. I am allowed to
sell it to you (first sale) as long as I remove every trace of the
program from my computer.
 
>    The FSF gives you the right to make a lawful copy of the content of
>    their servers on your computer. If you, as AMS and not as agent of
>    your employer, make a copy of software on those servers, you own a
>    lawful copy, and that copy resides on your disk.
> 
> And since the employeer gave me access, leagl such, to the content of
> the CD, then I can lawfully make a copy of that content.

If he transferred ownership of the copy to you, yes. If he merely
instructed you to install the software on one of his computers, no. 

> > AMS uttered:
> > > 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.
> 
> > If you do so as yourself. When you are acting as an agent for your
> > employer, you are not acting for yourself, and all rights remain
> > with your principal. That is what the law says. Using Word on your
> > employer's computer doesn't give _you_ a license (that is, you do
> > not enter into a business relationship with Microsoft which is what
> > a license to use Word is).
> 
> I don't know what the license is of this program.  I can only assume
> that it is non-free, so it will have specific clauses that prohibit
> sharing.  Since the license prohibits sharing, I can't share it
> legally with someone else.

It doesn't matter what the license is, because the license is between
the owner of the copy, and the owner of the software. It would matter
if a license were a property of the software, but (for the umpteenth
time) *it is not*. 

> Can we stick to the GPL? Since that is the only thing that matters
> here, if the license doesn't give you the four freedoms, then the
> discussion is moot.

Again, Alfred, the license is an agreement between you and the owner of
the software. Without a license, the Copyright statues forbid copying.
When you are handling a CD (as an agent or the mail carrier or a
helping hand during a move) you do not become the *owner* of a copy,
and thus you cannot do *anything*. The fact that the owner of the
software is prepared to license it to you under the GPL doesn't mean he
*has* licensed it to you. The only way you can invoke the GPL is when
you first have acquired a legal copy.

In the case that interests you - namely that you can make copies of
your employer's software as long as you presume the software has been
licensed under the GPL, to forget that the employer might have acquired
it from the owner under another license. And because the license is not
an intrinsic quality of the software, but an agreement between two
parties covering the use of the licensor's property by the licensee,
the fact that you believe that this software can also be acquired under
the GPL is of no value. 

The license is not part of the software. 

Take care,

-- 
Stefaan
-- 
As complexity rises, precise statements lose meaning,
and meaningful statements lose precision. -- Lotfi Zadeh 


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