Open source shareware?

Forrest J. Cavalier III mibsoft at
Thu Nov 8 21:29:47 UTC 2001

John Cowan wrote:
> USC 117 says (in part):
> # [I]t is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer
> # program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation
> # of that computer program provided [...] that such a new copy or
> # adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the
> # computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in
> # no other manner [...].
> > The fact that a
> > copyright holder can control his or her work at the level of a RAM copy
> > may be big trouble for us. Ostensibly, one can hardly "use' software
> > without the author's permission,
> On the contrary.  The above says that you can copy the program if 1)
> you own a copy, 2) you can't use it without copying it, 3) you don't use
> the copy in any other way.

I read the circuit court ruling "MAI SYSTEMS CORP VS PEAK COMPUTER, 
INC" from this URL,

Frustrating reading, and frustrating conclusions.  What I take
from it is that if anyone (besides you) services your computer, and
they cannot run your copy of an operating system or other
software to check something for you.

But back to the shareware question.  From that ruling there is
a footnote that confuses me.

   5. Since MAI licensed its software, the Peak customers do
      not qualify as "owners" of the software and are not
      eligible for protection under 117.

What does that mean?  (I can understand it if the wording
was "Peak does not qualify as owner."  But this says that
Peak's customers, who had a valid license from MAI, were
STILL not owners.)  Is this a typographical error?  Or
does it really mean that when you have a licensed copy of
software, you do not have a copy that you own.

Under what circumstances am I "owner of a copy" under
US Copyright Act #117?  Am I owner of a copy even if
the license says:
   You agree that we own all copies, and you may not copy,
   modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except
   as expressly provided under this License.  You are not
   required to accept this License, since you have not signed
   it.  However, nothing else grants you permission to modify or
   distribute the Program or its derivative works.

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