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Re: Advice Workplace that Forces Non-Free Software

From: Mike Gerwitz
Subject: Re: Advice Workplace that Forces Non-Free Software
Date: Tue, 08 Sep 2020 21:47:49 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/28.0.50 (gnu/linux)

On Tue, Sep 08, 2020 at 13:57:42 +0300, Jean Louis wrote:
> * 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.

While our concerns overlap, there are some distinctions.  I'll elaborate

> So you refer to this:
> Quote:
> 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.

We are in agreement.

> - 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
>   software. 

There are a few different things lumped in here.  And while I have my
own theories, IANAL, and I'd prefer someone else comment on such

I also suspect that the particulars of a given situation are important.

But it's becoming tangential to the original discussion.

>> 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,

I know.

> 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.

Again, you'd want to consult with a lawyer on this.

The particular situations under which you are expected to be acting on
behalf of an employer or in a personal capacity vary from one
jurisdiction to the next.

> 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.

If it is indeed intended as a gift for an employee to use in a personal
capacity, then yes, the work has clearly been conveyed, and the employer
is bound as a distributor to the terms of the GPL.

> 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.

That's a different case.  If an employee is acquiring software from a
server that is not owned by the employer, then the employer is _not_ the

However, if the employee is acting on behalf of the employer, then the
employee doesn't necessarily have the rights to the software.

> 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.

Yes, I appreciate this discussion.

Mike Gerwitz

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