loophole in the GPL?

Seth David Schoen schoen at loyalty.org
Thu Mar 30 20:56:54 UTC 2000

Justin Wells writes:

> On Thu, Mar 30, 2000 at 02:52:38PM -0500, John Cowan wrote:
> > The term "distribute" must be understood in the sense in which it is
> > used in the Copyright Act.  The term is not actually defined there, but
> > is used thus:  "distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work
> > to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or
> > lending".  So selling copies is a type, indeed the primary type,
> > of distribution.
> However, I thought it was well established that a copyright license 
> CANNOT prevent you from selling your copy of a copyrighted work.

Mmmm, I think you're glossing over what "your copy" means here.  I imagine
that you're referring to the "first sale" doctrine, which restricts the
ability of copyright holders to restrict resale of copies _that they
sell_.  First sale does not restrict the ability of copyright holders to
restrict resale of copies _that other people make_.

> Once you have legally acquired a copy, you CAN sell it.

That would be neat, because then you could make "fair use" copies for
yourself, and then they would be legal, so you could sell them.  The
people you sold them to would then have legal copies, so they could
make fair use copies, and then those copies would be legal, too, and
they could sell them...

This would be neat, but I don't think copyright law quite works that

Seth David Schoen <schoen at loyalty.org>  | And do not say, I will study when I
Temp.  http://www.loyalty.org/~schoen/  | have leisure; for perhaps you will
down:  http://www.loyalty.org/   (CAF)  | not have leisure.  -- Pirke Avot 2:5

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