W. Yip weng at yours.com
Thu Mar 23 12:03:59 UTC 2000

For *legal* purposes, is the phrase "Violation of GPL" incorrect?

I state my understanding as follows. I would appreciate any comments as to
whether they are right.

It seems possible to 'violate' the terms of a license where a contract is
involved. In such a case, 'violation' would amount to a breach of
contractual terms (as contained in the license).

However, where there is NO contract involved, such as the case of a bare
license, am I right to say that it is not possible to 'violate' the terms
of the license? 

A license is only permissive. The failure to follow the license terms
amounts to acting beyond what is permitted. Invariably in software this act
would infringe copyright, because such an act would presumably come under
those exclusive rights guaranteed by copyright. Therefore, 'violation of
license terms' is not a proper phrase, since the effect is copyright

I make this query because the phrase 'violation of GPL' seems to be used
very often, and to my (doubtful) understanding, I do not regard it to be


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