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Re: Advice Workplace that Forces Non-Free Software

From: Jean Louis
Subject: Re: Advice Workplace that Forces Non-Free Software
Date: Tue, 8 Sep 2020 13:57:42 +0300
User-agent: Mutt/1.14.0 (2020-05-02)

* Mike Gerwitz <> [2020-09-08 07:56]:
> Internal distribution (to other employees) counts as the same
> party.  v3 also states:

While I do understand to which link and section of interpretation of
the GPL you are pointing to, I do not agree that it is same as we were
speaking of.

> Internal distribution within an organization is private.

I understand your opinion, I do not agree to that as the
interpretation on that link is not telling that.

So you refer to this:



Is making and using multiple copies within one organization or company 
“distribution”? (#InternalDistribution)

No, in that case the organization is just making the copies for
itself. As a consequence, a company or other organization can develop
a modified version and install that version through its own
facilities, without giving the staff permission to release that
modified version to outsiders.

However, when the organization transfers copies to other organizations
or individuals, that is distribution. In particular, providing copies
to contractors for use off-site is distribution.

End of quote

- making a copy in my organization would mean somebody let us say,
  burning the CD or placing OS on the USB stick, or doing some other
  kind of duplication or replication of software on multiple
  computers, or various media, and that can be done by myself or by
  any staff member in the name of the organization management. Even if
  such software is modified, I am doing it for my organization, like
  preparing copies, duplicates, or installing it on computers. That is
  what the above interpretation says, just making copies for itself,
  or developing modified versions, installing such on own facilities,
  meaning on own computers, without giving staff permission to release
  it, is not distribution. This is quite clear to me, it was clear
  previously, and myself I can clearly see it is not conveying of
  software. Software is there to be used on my own facilities.

- but let us say, I provide CD/DVD or USB sticks or server links and
  advise staff members to install such software for better function of
  our organization, where staff members individually receive such
  software, they could be in-house or outside of house, where the
  staff member is installing free software on person's own phone for
  better function of organization, or if such software is installed on
  computer that belongs to organization, but I have given the USB
  flash or DVD to staff member, without making note of "internal" or
  that staff member is doing it in the name of the organizational
  management, but is only advised to install software for usage, then
  such staff member is facing license texts and if I did not forbid it
  (no reference to that in GPL that I know) -- then that is conveying

> So when the organization receives a copy of the software from a third
> party, that organization is entitled to the source code.  But the
> organization has no obligations with regards to internal distribution,
> e.g. to employees.

The interpretation did not mention the word employee, and it is not in
the GPL. There is difference if I modify the software, and explain to
staff member that this software cannot be released to public, and that
I am not giving software to employee, but that software is regarded as
controlled by my organization, and that employee is only installing it
on behalf of management, then fine.

Yet, if I provide DVD of operating system and I tell to employee that
he shall install it, without giving special notices and informations
that software should not be released, and without giving employee
power of attorney or other authorization to act on behalf of
organization only, and when employee is convinced that employee
received the DVD/USB or had access to free software over Internet,
than in that case that is conveying of software.

It is not a slight difference, employees too often do private things,
and if you give them USB flash, they may understand that as a gift,
and may never even give it back in some cases.

In my organization in particular, I am conveying software to
employees, and they have same rights by the license. I have never
restricted employees of sharing software, but restricted sharing
private data. Thus in my practical case, I am conveying software, and
employees have rights to convey and have their freedoms, because none
of them acted in their capacity as representative of management, they
acted in their own individual position and have got opportunity to do
with software what they wish. Thus I have conveyed it practically in

Making copies internally is not same as advising employee to download
from public server and install software, do you see? There are many
cases how software is conveyed to employees and one case does not fit
that interpretation mentioned, and interpretation does not even refer
to conveying, it refers to making copies on its own facilities, even
in that case employee installing such software or receiving it should
be doing so in the name of management.

All those are so much hypothetical issues, but clarification that you
have made is helping those on this public list to hopefully interpret
better what GPL allows.


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